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March 24, 2020 - Update for Harvesters on COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Dear Members,

We understand the stress that every member is feeling at this time. This is unprecedented on many levels. Like so many more of the challenges we face, it takes people working together to make a difference. Right now, the entire world is facing this challenge.

Ensuring our family, friends and communities remain safe is the most important thing right now.  FFAW-Unifor is committed to providing the most up-to-date information from the most reputable sources for our members.

FFAW-Unifor has been working around the clock to prepare workers for the many challenges the current pandemic is causing. We are working with governments and employers to ensure safety considerations are the number one priority. We know that many essential workers such as healthcare, transportation, food production and retail are still operating using the best available practices and we are thankful for their work.

EI Benefits

FFAW-Unifor has been prominent in discussions with government in recent weeks. On Saturday, President Keith Sullivan spoke with federal fisheries minister, Bernadette Jordan. Minister Jordan confirmed that fish harvesters who are impacted by season delays due to COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for an extension to EI.

DFO Licensing Fees

The government is working hard to address the needs of our industry as quickly as possible and further details should be available in the coming weeks on other supports for the industry. FFAW-Unifor has requested that DFO immediately waive all licensing fees for the 2020 season.

2020 Fishing Season Considerations

FFAW-Unifor is currently engaged in discussions with fishing industry colleagues globally regarding their experiences with fisheries in the current environment. We are also engaging in discussions with governments and local processors’ organizations such as ASP and SPONL.

The snow crab season is scheduled to start in the coming weeks, and we will be discussing what options may be available to have valuable fisheries for all in 2020, including snow crab.  Elected committee members will be part of these discussions and we will work hard to pass on information as quickly as possible.

It is part of your Union’s responsibility to explore all options that will deliver the most valuable fishery in this challenging time. Many may call current exchanges “negotiations”, but the environment is drastically different and the level of discussion and collaboration required are nothing like anything any of us have engaged in before. Therefore, FFAW-Unifor will continue to discuss solutions to our challenges, including continuing discussions about possibilities for this season’s fisheries, including snow crab.


Minister Jordan committed to be available to discuss the concerns of FFAW-Unifor members as this pandemic evolves. The Minister is open to advice from industry leaders and understands that a variety of measures may be needed to support our industry, people and communities in these extraordinary times. We agreed that open communication and swift action will be crucial in the coming weeks and months.

We continue to encourage our members to reach out to your staff representatives and inshore council and executive board representatives if you have any questions or concerns. We will continue to provide frequent updates as this situation evolves.

In Solidarity,

Keith Sullivan
FFAW-Unifor President