The union executive may have elected Greg Pretty as President of the FFAW-Unifor in January, but it is clear that Bay Bulls fisherman Jason Sullivan is the choice of most inshore harvesters to lead them through the ongoing tie-up over crab price
Bay Bulls fisherman Jason Sullivan stepped down as President of SEA-NL in January as part of his legal bid to challenge his disqualification from running for president of the FFAW-Unifor. The legal challenge remains before the courts. CBC photo.
Jason let it be known on VOCM OpenLine with Paddy Daly this morning that boats in the inshore crab fleet should remain tied to the wharf, or face the consequences.
Not consequences from Jason Sullivan, but from the FFAW crowd that is sure to be there to great them at the wharf.
The FFAW may be behind the crab tie-up, but it's Jason Sullivan that other harvesters are looking to for leadership and direction.
Jason’s OpenLine call this morning (a frank and intelligent overview of the sorry state of inshore fishery affairs) seems to have tightened the ranks.
Those ranks were already building on Jason’s Facebook group (the Fishermen's Forum) with almost 13,000 members.
The FFAW's executive board would be foolish not to finally take heed of the long-standing divide between them and rank-and-file members.
As for justification of the tie-up, the Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery is the largest in the world, and the fear is that if our boats start fishing and flood the already depressed crab market with millions more pounds of product it will drive the price down even further.
And for years to come.
There’s logic to that, and so the tie-up continues.
LOBSTER TIT FOR TAT
The move by processors Wednesday not to buy lobster for the agreed-to Urner Barry formula price of $14.37/lb seems to be retaliation for harvesters not fishing crab for the $2.20/lb panel price.
But what I found even more shocking was the report of the province’s fish price setting panel on the spring price of northern shrimp.
Not only did the panel side with the Association of Seafood Producers in setting the average spring price at $1.08/lb, but the panel chastised the FFAW for its “extreme” price offer of $1.58/lb.
The panel seemed to say the FFAW offer was not based on market reality, and hinted from the start of its written report at bad-faith bargaining.
In its proposal to the panel on shrimp, the FFAW used a yield rate of 35%-38% in its calculations for setting price, but couldn’t say where the union got it.
The FFAW’s offer of a $1.58/lb spring price for northern shrimp landed at the plant was based on the 2022 price of $1.42/lb (that did not result in a fishery because processors wouldn’t pay it), plus 11%.
The FFAW issued a statement Wednesday to say the final offer selection process is broken (and it is), but what must also not be forgotten is that the panel (which includes Earle McCurdy, former president of the FFAW) seemed to unanimously say that the union’s argument for $1.58/lb shrimp was weak.
The FFAW's primary function as collective bargaining agent for inshore harvesters is to set the price of fish, a responsibility that the union must take seriously and do well.
Or get the hell out of the way.
Ryan Cleary, 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.