July 23, 2021 – FFAW-Unifor has been actively working to address the concerns of sea cucumber harvesters that affect many members and communities in our province. We requested that DFO clarify how they would approach sea cucumber permits if there was no fishery, or a limited fishery due to market considerations, or lack of a resolution surrounding changes to water deductions. It is our position that it would be unfathomable that harvesters would be penalized under any such scenario. Please see the note received below from DFO on today’s date:
The Department understands the concern and has been monitoring the situation and we are aware that minimal fishing activity has taken place since the 3Ps Sea cucumber fishery opened on June 1. While 2021 landings for both licence and permit holders lag behind what had been observed during previous years in the early stages of the season, the season does extend until December 31, 2021.
The completion of the Sea cucumber project is important to DFO and, up to now , has proceeded relatively well. Participation requirements for this fishery are in place to ensure that permit holders continue to be active in the fishery in order to support the Departments ongoing evaluation of its long-term sustainability and economic viability. It would not be the Department’s intent to cancel these permits in a given year should a labour dispute preclude the 3Ps Sea cucumber fishery from taking place.
It is our expectation that the parties will make every reasonable effort to resolve this dispute. To this end, we understand that discussions are ongoing between the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union and the Association of Seafood Producers and are hopeful that a resolution to this dispute can be found so that the sea cucumber fishery can proceed in the near term.
We will continue monitoring the situation over the coming weeks and months and are open to a further discussion on participation requirements in place for Eastern Bed permit holders should the current matter remain unresolved and result in the fishery not proceeding.
The provincial Minister of Fisheries is encouraging ASP and FFAW-Unifor to meet and discuss the future of the sea cucumber industry, including discussion with DFO regarding water content in the animals. Up to this point in time, ASP have not agreed to meet with FFAW to discuss. We believe it is important and valuable to have continued discourse with ASP on how to secure a successful fishery for all involved.
More updates will be posted as they become available.