October 20, 2021
ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor is calling for honesty from Ocean Choice International (OCI) regarding the lack of economic benefit that an offshore-dominated Unit 1 redfish fishery will have for Newfoundland and Labrador.
“OCI has long promoted itself as one of the largest quota holders of wild fisheries in Canada. The company already has exclusive access to tens of thousands of tons of redfish in Unit 2, greysole, yellowtail, coldwater shrimp, turbot, and cod,” explains Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “OCI will never depend on Unit 1 redfish to be economically viable, but dozens of communities and a thousand workers in the inshore will depend on it.”
OCI’s factory freezer trawlers are able to provide some processing on-board the vessel. With the exception of a small amount of fish landed at the OCI plant in Fortune, the majority of fish caught by OCI’s trawler fleet is exported to low-cost processing countries in Asia.
“Instead of bragging about the minimal amount of work that OCI provides workers in Fortune, OCI should instead disclose what percent of its offshore catch is processed on land in this province and what percent is being shipped overseas where workers are paid a fraction of what they are here,” Sullivan continues.
Most recently, OCI has promoted its newest offshore vessel, the Calvert, as proof of the company’s commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador without evidence to substantiate that claim.
“The Calvert was not built in this province and its construction did not provide any noticeable additional work,” says FFAW-Unifor Industrial Director Greg Pretty. “As an operating vessel, the Calvert is a mess. There is close to 50 per cent turnover after each trip the vessel makes because of extremely low rates of pay and benefits. These significant inconsistencies in personnel do not bode well for safety, and it certainly does not do much for economic development. It’s long been clear OCI is only after the bottom-line and padding their own pockets.”
“OCI has a long history of leveraging a few better paying jobs in this province to distract from the pipeline of Newfoundland and Labrador fish that it routinely sends to Asia for great profit,” Sullivan concludes. “That is what OCI means when they say, ‘The fishery means the world to us.’ We expect that the province will see through OCI’s ruse and fully support the inshore getting majority access to Unit 1 redfish. We also expect that the decision-makers in Ottawa will put community over corporations in making its redfish access and allocation decisions.”
For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications, at [email protected] or call/text 709-743-4445.