FFAW-Unifor flip flops on support for Marine Protected Area off Newfoundland’s South coast after FISH-NL embarrasses union into it 


The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the FFAW-Unifor’s last-minute objections to proposed regulations governing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) off the province’s south coast — after initially supporting them — is an attempt to cover its gross incompetence.

“The FFAW-Unifor only opened its mouth after FISH-NL embarrassed the union into it,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “FISH-NL says jump and the FFAW-Unifor asks how high. Only jumping’s not enough — the FFAW does not deserve to represent inshore harvesters.”

On June 24, the federal government launched a 30-day consultation period over proposed regulations to govern the Laurentian Channel MPA, which, at more than 12,000 square kilometres, would be Canada’s largest — and the province’s third protected area.

The Laurentian Channel MPA is said to be home to two at-risk species — leatherback turtles and northern wolffish — and is described as a “critical feeding area and migration route into and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”

While the proposed regulations would ban commercial and even recreational fishing in the MPA, oil industry and gas activities — including seismic, and drilling — would be permitted.

A federal government analysis of the regulations to govern the Laurentian Channel MPA specifically mentions how the FFAW-Unifor is good with them. The analysis goes on to say “some individuals from the inshore fishing sector have expressed concern” regarding the intent to prohibit fishing while allowing oil and gas activities.

On July 18, FISH-NL registered its official opposition to the regulations to govern the Laurentian Channel MPA, describing them as as a joke to scientists and insult to inshore harvesters.

“The fact that the proposal has been signed off on by the FFAW-Unifor is yet another example of a union that no longer champions its members or the fishing industry, and has become a lackie of Ottawa and the oil and gas industry,” Cleary said in a July 19 news release.

On July 24th, the FFAW submitted a formal submission regarding the proposed Laurentian Channel MPA regulations, with President Keith Sullivan describing them as “critically lacking,” and taking “great exception” to the comment that the union supports the project.

“The FFAW had almost a month to lodge its objection, but didn’t do so until after FISH-NL threw it in the union’s face,” Cleary said. “As with everything else with the FFAW’s pathetic representation of inshore harvesters, it’s too little too late.”

Fifteen of Canada’s leading marine scientists have also lodged their objections with the proposed regulations to govern the Laurentian Channel MPA.

In its submission to the federal government on the Laurentian Channel MPA, FISH-NL recommended that Ottawa hold another series of public meetings in adjacent communities.

FISH-NL also registered concerns over the current boundaries of the proposed MPA, which are located entirely in fishing zones off Newfoundland’s south coast (3Ps and 3Pn).

“The FFAW has betrayed south coast harvesters,” says Cleary.  “What began as a Laurentian Channel MPA is now a south coast Newfoundland MPA. Newfoundland has lost 12,000 square kilometres of fishing waters, and harvesters in Nova Scotia and St. Pierre haven’t lost a single square inch.”

Scientists say the original boundaries of the Marine Protected Area were 33 per cent greater than they are today.