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Profit over people: Royal Greenland isn’t here to help Newfoundlanders

August 16, 2022

This letter was originally published on Saltwire News Network, from Keith Sullivan in response to Simon Jarding of Royal Greenland. 

This letter is in response to article “Time to ‘put the gloves down’ says Royal Greenland’s boss in Newfoundland” published on August 4, 2022, where Simon Jarding made several disingenuous and false statements regarding the current state of the provincial fishery. Despite Mr. Jarding’s attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Saltwire readers, I will attempt to explain the facts of these complex issues.

Jarding’s assertion that Royal Greenland truly wants product landed and processed in Newfoundland and Labrador has proven to be categorically false. The company, a crown-corporation of the country of Greenland, flatly refused to buy shrimp from NL harvesters at a fair price earlier this summer, telling harvesters if they wanted to fish, they must bring their product all the way to Quebec if they wanted a buyer.

Why could the Royal Greenland plants in Quebec pay double the price for the same product? Why did Royal Greenland refuse to pay the same to NL harvesters? These are the key questions Mr. Jarding has conveniently sidestepped.

Meanwhile, Royal Greenland was bringing in twice-frozen shrimp from industrial draggers, paying substantially more for it, and processed a product that is worth less at market than fresh product caught by inshore harvesters.  This in itself would not be an issue for any FFAW members, plant workers or fish harvesters alike. The issue is that the same company refused to pay as much, or even close to, the same amount for fresh inshore shrimp, keeping inshore shrimp plants shuttered, leaving boats tied on and plant workers at home.

You see, the shrimp harvesters on the northern peninsula have faced years of steep quota and price cuts. These harvesters also have no access to other species, such as the more lucrative snow crab fishery. As a result, many face bankruptcy if their enterprises if the shrimp fishery is unsuccessful. Royal Greenland and other Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) members have an end game with their strategy: erode the inshore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Royal Greenland’s actions are a blatant and egregious misuse of a processing license – something that is a privilege and must be used to the benefit of the people of our province.

As it stands, millions of dollars’ worth of resources are still in the water, as a direct result of Royal Greenland and other ASP member companies attempts to drive inshore harvesters out of the fishery.

The issue comes down to the problem of corporate concentration and control, and the ensuing chaos it has created this fishing season in particular. There is an immediate need for increased competition and capacity in the processing sector, as the largest companies continue to buy out smaller ones, further monopolizing their shares in the market.

Both plant workers and fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are impacted by ASP’s attempts to squeeze harvesters’ shares in the market – the hundreds of hours of lost work and the millions of dollars of resources still sitting in the water.

I would like to “enlighten” Mr. Jarding to the fact that this foreign company will not come in our province and take from our people. Our Union will certainly not allow it, and we will continue to hold our provincial government to account in ensuring they do not let it happen either.