Skip to content

MEDIA RELEASE: ASP Retaliatory Clawbacks Harm Crab Resource

May 29, 2023

 May 29, 2023

FFAW-Unifor is calling for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as the provincial departments responsible for seafood processing regulation to take action against companies who are throwing environmental management protections out in an effort to retaliate monetarily against snow crab harvesters. Specifically, companies have unilaterally thrown out a longstanding conservation rule that states a 20% tolerance limit on under 4” snow crab size and implemented a 0% tolerance limit. The actions are the latest in a string of bad-faith business tactics and proof that federal and provincial intervention is required to ensure companies operate in a way that protects the important snow crab resource and the communities that rely on it.

“These companies are once again trying to pull one-over on fish harvesters because of the modest gains we made during the extended tie-up,” says Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President.

The 20% tolerance for under 4” crab has been in the crab schedule since 1998 and has been agreed to by both parties since its inception 25 years ago.  The 20% tolerance was introduced because of concerns from DFO surrounding high grading and poor harvesting practices that could harm the crab fishery.  For over 25 years, this language has been agreed to and signed off by both parties and has been built into DFO’s Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for NL snow crab.  The DFO IFMP for snow crab is the guiding management and conservation document for NL snow crab.  This tolerance is not a pricing concern, rather it is a DFO management tool for the long-term health and sustainability of the important snow crab resource. ASP claims they have the authority to remove this language without ever discussing this in bargaining, in their Panel submission, or to any regulatory authority.

“This underhanded move should be concerning to anyone who cares about how our natural resources are managed. It’s reckless behaviour on behalf of these companies, and it’s abundantly clear it’s retaliation for the deal we signed with the Premier a couple weeks ago. It’s their way trying to claw back any gains we made during that six-week period,” says Pretty.

The implications of potential at-sea high grading and impacts on the long-term health of the snow crab resources are unknown. The Union has met with DFO leadership and there is significant concern from harvesters about ASP’s disingenuous and secretive actions that jeopardize the sustainability of the resource, the critically important Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, and economic viability of rural NL. MSC certification is an internationally recognized certification for seafood and ensures access to important markets like the United States and Europe.

The Union expects ASP to explain their actions and for federal and provincial regulators to intervene. Any harvesters who are deducted at 5% tolerance should contact their Staff Representative and a formal grievance will be filed.