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Fish Harvesters Mark Significant Victory in Fight to Protect Independent Owner Operator Fishery

February 6, 2018

St. John’s, NL – After many years of advocating for changes to legislation, today fish harvesters in the province are welcoming significant amendments to Canada’s Fisheries Act that will provide legal protection to the Owner Operator and Fleet Separation policies, which protect the independence of the inshore fishery and the coastal communities that rely on it.

“This is a pivotal moment for Canada’s fishery,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “The capacity of the Minister to make fishery decisions to protect the economic independence and sustainability of inshore harvesters and coastal communities has been repeatedly challenged by the corporate interests in the fishery. Today’s proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act remove any ambiguity, clearly stating that the Minister may make decisions to protect independent inshore license holders and the communities that rely upon them.”

Two particular amendments to the Act explicitly permit stronger inshore, owner-operator protections in the future. In the amended Act, the Minister will be guided by considerations for the “preservation or promotion of the independence of license holders in commercial inshore fisheries” and “social, economic, and cultural factors.” Both considerations rebuff longstanding positions held by corporate interests, and clearly support the government’s efforts to end the use of controlling agreements in the fishery.

Additionally, these new amendments will empower the Minister to establish specific regulations to protect the fleet separation and owner-operator policies. Enacting these regulations is the next step in the legislative process to protect the owner-operator fleet in Atlantic Canada.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to what can be accomplished when inshore fish harvesters have a strong and united voice on an issue,” continued Sullivan. “We have worked closely with our fellow harvester organizations in Atlantic Canada to present a clear argument for greater and better enforced protections for independent fish harvesters. Today’s announcement is proof that our efforts are worthwhile. These amendments to the Act will protect the independence of the inshore fishery and will safeguard our industry and our coastal communities for future generations.”


For media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney Glode, FFAW Communications

Jessica McCormick