Skip to content

Statement on Harvester Demonstration at FFAW Offices

May 9, 2020

FFAW-Unifor acknowledges the intense frustrations and anxiety felt by fish harvesters around the province this season, including those who organized a demonstration outside FFAW-Unifor’s office in St. John’s today. While frustrations with the challenges in the fishery this year are understandable, blame for the uncertainty and discontent this season must be placed with the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) who have refused to negotiate with fish harvesters on a fair price or scheduling of the fishery.

ASP has taken every available opportunity to undermine the collective bargaining process this year. These companies have taken advantage of the worldwide pandemic to manipulate and control inshore harvesters while reaping the profits. 

After many weeks of refusing to negotiate prices and conditions of sale for snow crab, processing companies are now implementing uneconomical trip limits on harvesters throughout the province, while continuing to import truckloads of out-of-province snow crab. Unilaterally imposing trip limits on fish harvesters is a violation of the collective agreement between ASP and FFAW-Unifor. Processing companies are also bringing in company-controlled boats from out-of-province to land snow crab while attempting to severely limit local inshore fish harvesters.

These actions by ASP, which have been condoned by the provincial government, combined with inaction from the federal government on direct compensation and support for fish harvesters have resulted in the mounting tensions boiling over today.

With a diverse membership of nearly 10,000 fish harvesters from various fleets based in hundreds of communities around the province, it is always a challenge to find unanimous agreement on issues in the fishery. Since this pandemic began, FFAW-Unifor has relied on the leadership and guidance of dozens and dozens of fish harvesters who make up the volunteer, elected leadership of the organization. Through consultations with these groups, FFAW-Unifor has worked to represent the best interests of fish harvesters despite the roadblocks and resistance of fish processing companies, who have worked every step of the way to sow division within the industry. These democratic processes might not satisfy every fish harvester, but it is the best mechanism to ensure fairness within our union.

In the midst of a global pandemic, and with fish processing companies attempting to pit harvesters against one another, fish harvesters must work together. These are very challenging times for our coastal communities. FFAW-Unifor will continue to work closely with all of our members to fight back against ASP’s attempts to control the fishery and we will continue our call for urgently needed federal support for fish harvesters.