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February 3, 2023

Thirty members of the FFAW’s Inshore Council met this week in St. John’s to tackle priorities for the upcoming fishing season. Two full days were spent on a packed agenda of items affecting all regions, fleets and species relating to the commercial fishery in this province.

Council members were provided with extensive market and negotiations updates, and debated the merits of a snow crab pricing formula. The Council agreed that the Union would further explore this route and present possible options to Council for consideration at a future date.

Council members agreed that unfairness in trip scheduling and limits contributes to the turmoil and upheaval in an already difficult snow crab fishery. Council raised that possible options to alleviate some of this pressure would be to a) consider season extensions, b) add additional processing capacity, or c) a combination of the two. An additional meeting composed of crab fleet chairs and select council members will be scheduled to further address these and similar concerns ahead of this year’s snow crab fishery.

The Inshore Council has mandated that a 3KL Working Group be instated for northern cod, and agreed that the FFAW would request an increase to the Maximum Allowable Harvest (MAH) pending the stock assessment update this March. Additionally, FFAW will work with DFO to keep harvesters better informed of remaining MAH as closing dates approach.

DFO Policy Consultations will be taking place soon, and Inshore Council debated a number of these policy items, coming to unanimous consensus on several key issues. Motions were passed to lobby that DFO reinstate the 30-day grace period around the 12-month rule. Council passed a motion to lobby against a potential 30-day registration policy as it would directly contradict owner-operator legislation, as well as that DFO not change the secondary vessel registration for Core enterprises. Council passed a motion to lobby that DFO change the residency requirements to: Proof of Residing in NL for 3 consecutive years with proof of their area specific residence for a minimum of 6 months (as of current) for the purpose of licensing.

The Inshore Council is the democratically elected governing body for over 10,000 professional fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador, and their unanimous support for these key policy items must be given due consideration by federal decision-makers.

FFAW-Unifor will be submitting a request to DFO to ensure that fisheries under moratorium remain visible under their online licensing portal.

Regarding the energy industry in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore, the Inshore Council called for an immediate halt to proposed burn experiments over important fishing grounds. Deliberate spills of several cubic meters of oil and chemical dispersants during a narrow window of low-wind weather for a research study will not be supported by FFAW-Unifor. Additionally, the FFAW will request to add wind energy to the mandate of One Ocean.

We thank all Inshore Council members for their participation in this week’s meeting, and we look forward to advancing the clear mandate provided.