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Lobster levy and capelin shutdown, FFAW-Unifor executive shows inshore fleet who's boss this season

The FFAW-Unifor executive slapped a 2¢/lb levy this season on every pound of lobster landed by the inshore fleet without the clear support of most members. The union also prevented the east coast capelin fishery from opening this year, against the wishes of many enterprise owners. The FFAW executive has shown its membership this year who's boss — and it ain't them.

The FFAW-Unifor's headquarters on Cornwall Avenue in St. John's. The building is jointly owned by the union, and the Processional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board, an affiliated company.


The FFAW tacked a 2¢/lb levy on every pound of lobster sold by the inshore fleet without a clear mandate from the membership to do so.

SEA-NL almost immediately published an online poll — with 94.2% of respondents against the introduction of a lobster levy without the clear consent of owner-operators.

The fact that the FFAW can introduce a lobster levy without the membership's clear consent is a black eye on democracy/the labour movement.

If DFO can poll enterprise owners about vessel-size restrictions, the union can do the same with owner-operators on prices, and major policy.

Which is what happens with fishermen's associations in the Maritimes.


There's no commercial capelin fishery off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador this year, with almost 20,000 tonnes of quota left in the water after the FFAW refused to hold capelin calls or give the green light for DFO to issue sampling permits.

The FFAW essentially held industry hostage because not all capelin processors were prepared to buy capelin.

The decision means a $30,000-$40,000 loss to some east coast inshore boats. Last year's fishery had a landed value of $17 million.

in the words of enterprise owner Melanie Marsh, "If they opened the capelin fishery and I didn't like the price, and I didn't want to fish that's my choice, but the FFAW has taken away my choices."

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit

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