Three things should be crystal clear from the crab tie-up: 1) the province's final-offer selection system of fish pricing has crashed and burned; 2) the FFAW has lost credibility to negotiate fish prices for the inshore fleet; and 3) fishermen are not the enemy.
The inshore fleet of Port de Grave.
The mid-April protest should never have left the steps of Confederation Building when it is the provincial government that makes the laws that processors and buyers use to hold the inshore hostage.
While the market is the market, the government-controlled system of fish pricing here in Newfoundland and Labrador can not deliver a fair-market share to the inshore fleet.
Even if the crab price rises tomorrow to $3/lb, local processors could still hold it for sale in August or October for a much higher price — just like lobster.
PRICE-SETTING SYSTEM MUST BE REFORMED
What always been known, but never more clear is that the FFAW cannot serve two masters (fisherman and plant worker) at the same time, and then only after the union's own interests are met (i.e. slush funds).
Which is why I never understood why Bay Bulls fisherman Jason Sullivan wants to be president.
For owner-operators who've asked how to stop paying union dues, below is a letter that has done the trick in some cases. .
Print off, sign, and deliver to your processor/buyer.
I know of one small-boat owner-operator who hasn't paid FFAW dues in 15 years, and his buyer is Golden Shell.
Other buyers like Ocean Choice International said as recently as last week they will not recognize the letter, so a legal challenge will be necessary at some point.
Owner-operators should have their own voice at the negotiating table.
FISHERMEN ARE NOT THE ENEMY
Finally, the bad guy in this crab tie-up is not La Scie fisherman Jamie Mouland, who left for the crab fishing grounds last week.
When he and his crew eventually land they don't deserve to be beaten at the wharf, and the fish hold doused in diesel.
That was my primary reason for posting the warning Sunday afternoon from some (not all) enterprise owners of La Scie, and warning the RCMP.
Fishermen are not the enemy.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
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.