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Job to criticize Derek Butler when he was quazi founding father of SEA-NL (but I’ll give it a shot)

You read that right, Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers can take a share of the credit as inspiration for SEA-NL — the “distinct” voice of inshore skippers. During an evening in February 2021 (more than a year after FISH-NL disbanded) Butler sent me an e-mail.

Derek Butler is leaving the Association of Seafood Producers for a new job with the Nunavut Fisheries Association, an indigenous organization with huge offshore fishing interests.


Sitting here reading some old fisheries reports, and tonight read this in a 1993 Task Force Report on Incomes and Adjustments in the Fishery, p.24.

It was, you will find funny, attributed to the FFAW.

Kind rgds,Derek

To be clear, I have known Derek Butler for years, and while our relationship had been friendly/respectful/enemy-of-my-enemyish (until he blocked me), we were not buddies.

I subscribe to the late Ray Guy's philosophy of never rubbing shoulders with potential adversaries: "It also made it easier … if you’re going to try and cut somebody’s throat you don’t want to know that their mother is dying of cancer or something. It kind of cramps your style a little bit.”

The idea of forming a professional association to represent enterprise owners had been around for a while (first proposed to me by a certain Twillingate fisherman), but the FFAW quote in Derek's email pushed me over the top in terms of seeing it through.

I have him to thank for that, just so we're all on the same page.

But that didn't stop me from giving him a tap when he had it coming.


1) He sees the writing on the wall regarding Indigenous growth in the commercial fisheries, and who better to pull off the impossible of getting offshore draggers the green light to fish the Indigenous share of stocks such as northern cod. SEA-NL wrote about it here: Offshore draggers may access northern cod through the (Indigenous) back door

2) Was Butler pissed off by the recent joke-of-a-review of the provincial government's fish price-setting legislation, which he had said was "too limited in scope"? (It most definitely was.) The province pulled off a review of the collective bargaining model for fish pricing in this province — with amending legislation passed in the House of Assembly Tuesday — in three lightening-fast months. Fishermen weren't even included in the puppet show, and another review of the pricing model won't happen for five years.

3) Butler has warned that the inshore fleet will pay next season and in future years for 2022's high snow crab prices (not a good way to start 2023 fish price negotiations) — even though both the $7.60/lb the season began with, and the $6.15/lb later price were both put forward by Butler and the ASP.

Can't help but wonder whether there was fallout from that.

4) The FFAW's chief negotiator, Robert Keenan, is also out of the picture, so there will be two fresh faces in fish price negotiations next season. Then again, talks on a new crab pricing formula will take place this fall.

Port de Gave harbour n a recent Sunday afternoon.

Butler also had a couple of other missteps this past season.

At one point I called Butler out for not disclosing processor information, and that was that — blocked.

In reaction to news of Butler's resignation, I've seen the comment, "the union should hire him now."

The comment was in jest, but there's respect in it, too.

Processors and buyers in this province are well organized and funded, and while some enterprise owners in the inshore fleet have found their distinct voice, more have yet to realize they need one.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization serving as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. You can read more about SEA-NL, and join us here.

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