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PROVINCE IN OVER ITS HEAD: Rural economic collapse ensues as Premier thinks markets to blame for industry chokehold

May 3, 2023

Message from FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty

Released Wednesday, MAY 3, 2023 at 8:00pm

Lobster buyers have initiated a second stoppage, just days after the first when increased market demand and reduced supply led to higher market prices, and as a result a higher price paid to harvesters based on the long-standing formula.

It’s clear that lobster buyers are exerting their control over harvesters, the province and the Department of Labour in their refusal to buy product instead of submitting for a price reconsideration at the Panel, proving there is no justification in their actions aside from a coordinated attempt to further hurt the inshore, owner-operator fishery. The refusal of companies to buy lobster has the crab crisis stamped all over it.

We need outside buyers. We need more competition. We need to give harvesters every available opportunity to sell their catch if our own provincial buyers refuse to engage in ethical business practices.

Holding a processing license in Newfoundland and Labrador is a privilege, not a right. Companies cannot come in here and hold tens of thousands of enterprise owners, crew members, plant workers and so many others hostage.

Unfortunately, our provincial government not only refuses to take action to fix a broken system, but they are also now directly spreading misinformation and undermining the decision-making structure of elected snow crab chairs.

Today, provincial fisheries minister, Derrick Bragg, wrote to our Union instructing us to undertake actions that would directly contravene the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act and thereby open harvesters and the Union up to litigation from companies. Minister Bragg is directly undermining the elected leadership of the Union, and it’s clear he has absolutely no handle on the crisis facing this industry, let alone the basic laws governing his portfolio.

Instead of stepping in as a provincial regulator to change rules surrounding processing licenses and the flawed price setting process, Minister Bragg continues to be a spectator.