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UPDATE -- Fish Harvesting Safety Protocols

April 10, 2020

Safety is the number one priority as we navigate the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A fishery will not take place until it can be done safely. If we get to a point where harvesters think a fishery can take place this year, we need to be prepared and are developing safety protocols and best practices for inshore vessels. Make no mistake, we are not recommending a fishery be opened until it is safe for our members.

As many may have seen, a document has been circulating written by the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) for fishing vessels. This is not a draft safety protocol document for inshore vessels developed with the FFAW. ASP did not consult with harvesters on this document, once again demonstrating they have no respect for the concerns of fish harvesters and have no interest in collaborating to protect the health and safety of people working in the fishery and living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

ASP cancelled meetings with harvesters to discuss these issues and has refused further meetings, demonstrating their unwillingness to work with fish harvesters. ASP’s document is an irresponsible push from processors to prematurely get a fishery going, despite the obvious risks to the health and safety of fish harvesters and plant workers.

FFAW-Unifor has been working with the NL Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL‑FHSA) to develop safety protocols and best practices for inshore vessels. This safety working group is comprised of all fish harvesters on the NL-FHSA Board of Directors as well as some members of FFAW’s Executive Board. The Executive Director of the NL-FHSA is Brenda Greenslade. Brenda was a Registered Nurse and is a former Director with Workplace NL. She is very experienced in OHS and is well positioned to work with harvesters on developing these protocols.

The safety protocols and best practices document for inshore vessels is a work in progress and the draft is currently being reviewed by harvester committees and members of the NL-FHSA. Once thoroughly reviewed by harvester committees, the NL‑FHSA and appropriate health and safety professionals, the document will be circulated to all inshore harvesters.

We will provide an update on a possible further postponement following the next Inshore Council meeting two weeks prior to May 1st.