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Legal Challenge to Owner-Operator Policy Threatens Independent Inshore Fishery

December 14, 2016

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Legal Challenge to Owner-Operator Policy Threatens Independent Inshore Fishery

St. John’s – A legal challenge to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Owner-Operator Policy may set a legal precedent that would threaten the future of the independent inshore fishery. The appeal, which is supported by large fish processing companies and the Association of Seafood Producers, will be heard in federal court in January 2017.

“This court challenge by fish processors is an attempt to do away with the inshore fishery as we know it. Make no mistake about it. This is an attack on fish harvesters,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “This legal challenge, if successful, threatens to destroy the independent inshore fleet and open up the industry to widespread controlling agreements.”

FFAW-Unifor and its partner organization, the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Federation, have retained the services of Phillip Saunders, Q.C., former Dean of Dalhousie Law School, to provide legal advice on the case and to prepare to file for intervenor status, if necessary.

“The current legal challenge and the slow pace of enforcement by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shows the limitations of not having key policies like owner-operator and fleet separation enshrined in regulation,” continued Sullivan. “Controlling agreements need to be understood as illegal arrangements and not just contrary to policy. Owner-operator and fleet separation are pillars, not just policies, of our rural economy. They need regulatory protection.”


For media inquiries, please contact:

Jessica McCormick, FFAW-Unifor Communications Officer