The only way for the inshore fleet to get the best, fairest possible price for their fish is to open the door to the free market — and allow in outside buyers. The provincial government’s hand will have to be forced (no matter what the premier says), which may mean some fishermen taking the bull by the horns, and trucking crab directly to markets in mainland Canada or the United States.
Port de Grave, Saturday, April 15.
The province will have some explaining to do if enterprise owners are stopped from trucking out live crab, at the same time that processors can truck crab in.
The FFAW will have to stand back, and let inshore enterprise owners take the lead on this one.
The union can never take a serious stand for outside buyers (no matter what the leadership says publicly) as long as the FFAW is in the conflicted position of also representing fish plant workers.
If anything good came from Monday’s demonstration on the steps of Confederation Building in St. John's it’s that Shea Heights fisherman Glenn Winslow stepped up.
Winslow, a member of the FFAW’s inshore council, called on the province to allow harvesters to truck their fish to the mainland.
He spoke with intelligence and passion and may represent a flicker of sanity/reality within the union executive.
Premier Andrew Furey told VOCM news he would speak to the FFAW about the possibility of exporting crab.
The premier is dead on the money — plant workers wouldn’t want to see fish shipped out-of-province.
Which, again, is why the FFAW must step back.
By provincial government law, fishermen are not allowed to strike (so there's no strike pay from the union for the tie-up), but then they’re also not permitted to vote on their collective bargaining agreements (the price of fish, in other words).
That must also change so that owner-operators can vote on a contract like workers in any other sectors.
Imagine telling NAPE members they can't vote on their contracts.
President Jerry Earle would do backflips up the steps of Confederation Building.
It was the processors and buyers, represented by Dereck Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers at the time, who recommended last year’s snow crab prices of $7.60/lb and $6.15/lb that were put forward to the price-setting panel.
Then those same processors and buyers whined about having more than $100-million in 2022 crab left in inventory (with nothing on paper to prove it), and expecting inshore owner-operators to shoulder the pain of righting the market?
Not good enough.
Opening the door to outside buyers will finally open the door to the free market.
Because that’s not what we have here in Newfoundland and Labrador with the inshore fishery.
The legislated system of fish pricing in this province chains fishermen so processors can have their way with them.
Those chains must be broken.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.