FFAW-Unifor’s Inshore Council met today to discuss the recent media release from the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP).
As you know, snow crab is the most important fishery for many harvesters and processing workers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite the very limited details provided, ASP’s release yesterday evening referenced a slowdown in production which has the potential to be catastrophic with a significant amount of quota remaining for the 2022 season.
Close to 70% of 50,000 mt Newfoundland and Labrador quota has been landed. Labrador harvesters have just started to harvest crab, but the company has committed to purchase their catch.
Harvesters were critical of ASP’s intentions and believe these companies must be required to be more transparent regarding information on product yields and markets. Many harvesters have made huge investments in their enterprises and ASP’s message causes unwarranted stress and anxiety on harvesters, crews, plant workers and all their families. Inshore Council members also point out that harvesters across the province will not tolerate unfair treatment of independent harvesters if companies prioritize boats tied to companies or those from out of province.
Additionally, concerns have been voiced regarding available cold storage which raises questions regarding what cold storage infrastructure has been added since the Canadian Stabilization funding provided to companies in recent years.
Inshore council members warn that sowing discord between different fleets of fish harvesters and fueling unsubstantiated rumours does not benefit inshore fish harvesters, plant workers, coastal communities, or Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole. The only ones who benefit when the industry is divided are the processing companies.
ASP member processing companies have the incredible privilege to be licensed to process in Newfoundland and Labrador and recent years have been extremely successful for the processing sector. These companies must be held to standards that involve treating workers fairly as a function of this privilege.
FFAW-Unifor has been in contact with both provincial Minister Bragg and DFO regarding the messages sent by ASP. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates to members when available.