FFAW’s Executive Board understands and agrees that this is a difficult time in the fishery. The fishery is in transition which creates uncertainty.
FFAW has worked hard to help ease the difficulties created by changes in the marine environment. We are in daily communication with DFO on improving quotas, on finding a better approach to assessing fisheries science, and on ensuring that the voice of harvesters is clearly heard in matters of fisheries management. We have dozens of elected committees throughout the province engaged with DFO on a wide variety of issues.
Over the past six months, these committees, in conjunction with FFAW staff, have conducted hundreds of meetings in communities across the province. We are engaged and the vast majority of our membership understand the support we provide and results we achieve.
This work brings results. We engaged DFO on crab quotas and succeeded in establishing fair quotas in light to the scientific evidence. We have spoken to Minister LeBlanc about changes to DFO science, such as limit reference points and exploitation rates, and he has committed to reviewing them. Last year, we campaigned hard and won the fight against LIFO, keeping inshore harvesters in the northern shrimp fishery. We also secured the first 115,000mt of northern cod for the inshore fleet and are working to create a new groundfish fishery that will be prosperous for harvesters for years to come.
FFAW respects the right to peaceful protests and is willing to engage with harvesters on the issues. But we do not condone threats of violence and we take these threats seriously.
Today’s protest at the Richard Cashin Building was organized by FISH-NL in order to generate support in light of its struggling union drive that was rejected by 75 per cent of fish harvesters. We have learned throughout this process that there is little that Ryan Cleary and the FISH-NL leadership will not do to draw attention and boost their profile. Unfortunately, this includes taking advantage of the challenges in the fishery by pitting harvester against harvesters, promoting lies and misstating facts, and fuelling an environment of tension and animosity that makes it difficult to engage in productive discussion. Given the challenges in the fishery, the lies and anger of FISH-NL have only served to benefit those who wish to undermine the strength of inshore harvesters.
We will meet with harvesters, but we will not meet with FISH-NL. We take the concerns of our members seriously; these concerns will not be used as an excuse for a spectacle. This meeting will occur in private without media attendance.
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