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Uphill battle for new blood to lead FFAW, but fish price negotiations will be Pretty big challenge

It won't be easy for new blood to win the FFAW presidency when the union’s executive board has unanimously endorsed Greg Pretty, who's been with the union since '79 when Frank Moores was premier.

Then, even if there is a contest, the only people eligible to vote will be the union's joint council of about 64 elected reps.

Such a battle would be so lopsided as to be over before it begins, but then the inshore fishery could do with a martyr.

The good news is that any fisherman/woman who signed FISH-NL cards in 2019 is finally eligible to throw their hat in the ring — the three-year FFAW banishment from their fundamental democratic rights has expired.

So there's a good chance Pretty will at the FFAW helm by early January. (Nominations open on Dec. 15, and run until the 29th, with an election slated for Jan. 5th if there's more than one candidate.)

It was Greg Pretty's brother, Chris Pretty, who was "unmasked" by The Independent online publication in 2020 as "Newfoundland's most wanted troll."

For years, the anonymous Twitter account known as Donny Dooley "mocked accident victims, berated grieving parents, and terrorized women."

Including me and my partner.

The identity of another Internet troll, Harry LaSabre, has never been revealed, although the Twitter account has been deactivated.


Greg Pretty is not known for his skill at negotiating fish prices, which, given the uncertainties of global markets, and recent resignation of both FFAW President Keith Sullivan and secretary-treasurer Robert Keenan (the union's chief negotiator), leaves the union short-handed in terms of experience.

Pretty has negotiated contracts for plant workers, and offshore trawlermen, although I've never heard one of them brag about how well they're paid.

On the other side of the negotiating table, Derek Butler stepped away from the Association of Seafood Producers in early November.

The recent review of this province's government-regulated fish-pricing system recommended that discussions begin this fall/winter on a formula for setting the snow crab price — similar to formulas in place for the lobster, halibut, and lump fish fisheries.

Snow crab is this province's most valuable fishery, with a landed value this year of $758 million. (The next closed fishery is northern shrimp, with a landed value of $120 million.)

As collective bargaining agent, the FFAW must get its act together ASAP.

In a day and age of high inflation and skyrocketing food prices, the only price that seems to be down is what's paid to the inshore fleet for their catches.

That must end.

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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