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SEA-NL up and running as ‘distinct’ voice of owner-operators; membership sign-up has begun



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Friday, June 11th, 2021


The Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc. (SEA-NL) has been formed to serve as the distinct voice of the province’s more than 3,000 licensed, commercial inshore fish harvesters — with membership signup officially starting today.


“It’s high time independent owner-operators were recognized as a distinct group within the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, with a say on all decisions that impact their enterprises,” says Ryan Cleary, organizer and interim Executive Director.

Since the plan to create SEA-NL was announced in mid-April, organizers Cleary and Merv Wiseman, well-known around the province as a search-and-rescue advocate, have created a non-profit company, and built a website (sea-nl.ca) containing membership and registration information.

The plan is for SEA-NL to hold a convention in the fall to formally adopt bylaws, an organizational structure, and to elect a board of directors made up solely of independent, inshore owner-operators from all fishing zones around the province.

An office will be opened and temporary staff hired as soon as membership/funding allows. Owner-operators who join SEA-NL will eventually be offered breaks on benefits including fuel, fishing gear, etc. that would come with negotiated group purchases.

In turn, SEA-NL will represent the interests of owner-operators in terms of fishery policy, and industry, government, and media relations, as well as overall communications.

“Owner-operators run the enterprises upon which the inshore fishery is built, and should see SEA-NL as an opportunity to take a direct lead in the industry moving forward,” says Wiseman, who has extensive leadership/organizing experience.


Cleary, a former federal Member of Parliament, led the FISH-NL union (2016-2019) in an unsuccessful attempt to break inshore harvesters away from the FFAW-Unifor, which represents all sectors within the province’s fishery.

Unlike FISH-NL, SEA-NL will represent the interests of licensed owner-operators only (not crew), and as an association won’t need permission from the province’s Labour Relations Board to organize. SEA-NL will not be in a position to negotiate fish prices, although it will be well-positioned to influence their outcome, and other industry/government policy and fish management practices.


SEA-NL’s primary mission will be to support fish harvesters, advocate for healthy fisheries, and strengthen fishing communities.

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