Tag Archives: FFAW-Unifor

ASP Retaliatory Clawbacks Harm Crab Resource

FFAW-Unifor is calling for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as the provincial departments responsible for seafood processing regulation to take action against companies who are throwing environmental management protections out in an effort to retaliate monetarily against snow crab harvesters. Specifically, companies have unilaterally thrown out a longstanding conservation rule that states a 20% tolerance limit on under 4” snow crab size and implemented a 5% tolerance limit. The actions are the latest in a string of bad-faith business tactics and proof that federal and provincial intervention is required to ensure companies operate in a way that protects the important snow crab resource and the communities that rely on it. >click to read the press release< 12:52

‘We got to go fishing’: More Newfoundland crab boats set sail as FFAW ramps up demands over prices and processing

Rod Rowe and his brother own two boats between them, with about a half million pounds of crab on offshore licences, and 12 crew members depending on these boats for their season’s wages. Before anyone suggests it, he added, their boats, the Atlantic Sound and the Avalon Run, are not “company boats.” While the Rowes and their crew were loading ice and bait today, the executive of the FFAW was preparing for a late-afternoon press conference.  The union, in its press release and press conference Wednesday afternoon, accused the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) of trying to break the union. photos, >click to read< 08:59


Six weeks into a provincial shutdown of the snow crab fishery and no movement on the minimum price from the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), FFAW-Unifor is calling for a complete overhaul of the province’s processing industry starting with immediately allowing outside buyers for all species. The FFAW-Unifor Snow Crab Bargaining Committee has agreed to sign off to start a crab fishery at the current minimum price on the condition that the provincial government immediately allow outside buyers and permit harvesters to truck-out their own product for all species without restrictions. “This tie-up has become about more than just about a minimum price of 2.20 per pound, it’s about the stranglehold these companies have on our province,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty.  FFAW-Unifor has requested a response from Premier Furey by 3:00pm today and will hold a press conference at 3:30pm. >click to read the press release< 13:12

ASP Pulls Plug on Snow Crab Bargaining

Yesterday, the FFAW-Unifor Snow Crab Bargaining Committee engaged ASP to sit down to the table to discuss a way to move the industry forward. After initial commentary from both sides, the FFAW Committee presented the first offer. The FFAW Negotiating Committee’s first offer was minimum price starting at 2.30 at current Urner Barry (4.65USD) with 15 cent increases at 5.00USD, and 15 cents for every additional 25 cent increase to Urner Barry. ASP flatly rejected this proposal, ended discussions and left the premises, however Loder stated ASP would be available for the remainder of the day. >click to read< 13:25

ASP Attempts to Light Fuse to Crab Fishery

Earlier today, the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) held a press conference where they attempted to further drive a wedge between fishing fleets in order to get a crab fishery started at bottom of the barrel prices. FFAW-Unifor, the union that represents all 10,000 inshore fish harvesters as well as over 3000 onshore processing workers, continues to call for changes to the price setting structure in Newfoundland and Labrador, which currently puts all of the market risk and downturn onto harvesters and coastal communities. “The Negotiating Committee was clear that 2.20 was not a viable price to fish at. It wasn’t a viable price 2 weeks ago, on Friday, or today, and it won’t be viable tomorrow or next week,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. >click to read< 16:24

Not Backing Down: Harvesters Hold Strong After St. John’s Rally

St. Johns, NL. – Close to a thousand people gathered today in St. John’s in front of the Confederation Building, calling for action to save the province’s snow crab fishery. The Union that represents over 14,000 people in the province, including all 10,000 professional fish harvesters and some 3,000 processing workers, says that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect the people who rely on the fishery, and ensure processing companies operate in a manner that benefits the people of our province. “Nearly 800 people showed, many of whom got up in the middle of the night to drive or catch a bus to get here today. They did it because the fishery matters, they matter, and they’re tired of being ignored,” Photos, >click to read< 17:51

SEA-NL on 3L

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador demands DFO immediately unify inshore and offshore snow crab fishing areas off eastern Newfoundland into a single biomass, and explain to the entire inshore fleet why the department divided them in the first place. “DFO disrespects the entire inshore sector in fishing zone 3L by favouring bigger boats over smaller boats in the same fleet,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “DFO must reveal the science behinds its decision to divide the crab fishing zone in the first place,” added Cleary. “The absence of science or questionable science at best tells smaller boat owner-operators the department wants their enterprises eliminated.” >click to read the press release< 08:12

Good Indicators for Capelin Health, Despite DFO’s Doubling Down on Doom and Gloom

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Following DFO’s technical briefing on the 2J3KL capelin stock today, fish harvesters are optimistic that more favourable environmental conditions could lead to stock growth.  “FFAW-Unifor is not surprised with the tone of today’s technical briefing by DFO Science, which have been consistently negative, irrespective of the data,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “DFO Science is supposed to be an unbiased, transparent, and evidence-based in their approach. But most of them don’t spend more than a day on the water each year. They don’t see or appreciate the qualitative observations professional fish harvesters provide, and how we can support more robust and reliable data collection for capelin and other species. Instead of contributing to a productive relationship and more informed stock assessments, we have government scientists whose sole objective is to shut commercial fisheries down, regardless of facts,” says Dennis Chaulk, fish harvester from Bonavista Bay with over 28 years of experience on the water. >click to read< 19:17

Positive signs in newest capelin stock assessment, but the tiny fish is still in the critical zone

“The capelin were in very good condition in the fall. That meant they’re longer and heavier than average. There’s lots of zooplankton, especially large zooplankton in the ecosystem,” said Hannah Murphy, a DFO research scientist and lead stock assessor. “We also had an increase in our larval abundance index this year, which is great. Larval survival is related to recruitment in capelin, so the more larvae we have and the more that survive, it’s better for the capelin stock.” Murphy said a full capelin acoustic survey happened over 2022, the first since 2019 due to the pandemic in 2020 and vessel availability in 2021. But the positivity ended there. This year, for the first time, the DFO has come up with a limit reference point for capelin. It’s set at 640 kilotons, the weight of fish in the water, and marks the boundary between the cautious and critical zones. >click to read< 17:32

Unfounded Environmentalist Dogma Overshadows DFO Mackerel Meeting

March 2, 2023 – JOHN’S, NL – Despite the mountains of evidence and years’ worth of work by inshore fish harvesters and the Union that represents them, the federal meeting to determine the fate of the Atlantic Mackerel Fishery in 2023 has left fish harvesters feeling frustrated and ignored.FFAW-Unifor is calling on Minister Murray to commit to fully investigating the possibility of mackerel spawning along the Northeast coast by conducting an egg survey and a robust sampling program. FFAW-Unifor is also calling on DFO to organize an urgent conference of mackerel harvesters and scientists from other North Atlantic countries to share information on shifting migratory patterns of this highly migratory species. >click to read< 17:23

‘Dark day for democracy’; FFAW rejects Jason Sullivan’s candidacy for president

Bay Bulls fisherman Jason Sullivan calls the rejection of his nomination for president of the FFAW-Unifor by the union’s election committee a dark day for democracy. “Some of those South American countries must be drooling at the FFAW election process,” said Sullivan, who was notified by e-mail of the rejection earlier today, two days before the scheduled Jan. 5th vote. Two candidates are left in the race — including FFAW staff-rep Greg Pretty, the leading candidate who was endorsed by the union executive board on Dec. 1, the same day former President Keith Sullivan unexpectedly resigned — and Dave Callahan, a west coast fisherman. >click to continue reading< 21:48

Jason Sullivan to run for FFAW Presidency

Bay Bulls fisherman and President of SEA-NL Jason Sullivan has announced plans to run for the top job at the FFAW-Unifor, despite long odds against a candidate unanimously endorsed by the union executive. “It’s easy to criticize, but you have to be willing to put your neck out there and offer the membership an alternative,” says Sullivan. “It’s time to change the course of the FFAW and regain the trust of the membership through communication and listening and acting on concerns.” >click to read< 10:05

FFAW executive board endorses Greg Pretty as union’s next leader

On the same day Keith Sullivan unexpectedly announced his departure as president of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest private sector union, the organization’s top ranks endorsed another longtime labour advocate, Greg Pretty, as his successor. At FFAW-Unifor headquarters in St. Johns on Thursday morning, Sullivan announced he was stepping down as president after eight years on the job and just one year into his latest three-year term. Despite Pretty’s strong support from the executive board, Doyle said the union will follow the rules of the constitution and hold a vote if other nominations come forward. The nomination period runs Dec. 15-29. >click to read< 15:01

Déjà vu for NL Fish Harvesters: DFO Science Falls Short on Surveys, Again

Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are expressing their concern and dismay after DFO Science communicated yesterday evening that the Fall multi-species survey will once again be incomplete this year. Underfunding coupled with dilapidated survey vessels means the multi-species surveys conducted by DFO falling short of capturing meaningful, up-to-date data on key commercial species such as Atlantic cod and snow crab. “When there is limited up-to-date data available, DFO is unable to make informed decisions about resource management. This has profound implications for fish harvesters and their livelihoods when decisions are being made to delay fisheries development,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. >click to read< 09:26

SEA-NL renews call for improved search and rescue for Labrador, federal inquiry into fishing vessel safety

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) joins in the renewed call for more search and rescue resources for Labrador and a federal inquiry into fishing vessel safety — encouraging other stakeholders like the FFAW-Unifor to do the same. “Safety at sea is a life-and-death issue that demands all hands on deck,” says Merv Wiseman, a member of SEA-NL’s board of directors, and an outspoken advocate for search and rescue/fishing vessel safety. “The lives of mariners off Labrador are as important as the lives of mariners off Newfoundland, and search and rescue resources must reflect that.” >click to read< 21:03

Government Report Fails to Acknowledge True Implications of Foreign Control

Today, the provincial government released a report entitled, “A Review of Foreign Investment in the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery.” While FFAW-Unifor is hopeful that the report’s recommendations will limit further foreign-control of our province’s resources, it fails to acknowledge or address the existing challenges hurting fish harvesters, plant workers, and coastal communities. “The entire processing industry is controlled by a handful of large companies – companies that continue to eat up smaller companies, continually growing their share and reducing competition in the industry. This situation is hurting inshore fish harvesters and plant workers, and it’s hurting the economic sustainability for coastal communities,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. >click to read< 10:44

Panel Review Recommendations a Step in Right Direction for Inshore Fishery

Today, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador released the independent report reviewing sections 19.1 to 19.14 of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act.  The report from independent reviewer, David Conway, outlines a number of recommendations aimed at modernizing parts of the collective bargaining model for the benefit of the inshore fishery. FFAW-Unifor has been an outspoken advocate for improvements to the collective bargaining process for fish harvesters and is optimistic that the recommendations in the report are an important step in improving both labour relations and the price setting process.  >click to read the Press Release< 14:03

Fiona Leaves Wake of Devastation for Inshore Harvesters

The damage left in Fiona’s wake has impacted multiple enterprises, leaving significant damage to gear, boats, motors, and sheds. FFAW-Unifor is seeking financial support from federal and provincial governments to assist these inshore harvesters in their rebuilding efforts. “The damage from Fiona has been felt in particular by folks located between La Poile and Port aux Basques. Some inshore harvesters have lost all their gear, motors, boats, and sheds – just washed away with the storm. As small-scale operators, they have no financial recourse through traditional insurance channels and we are therefore asking for financial relief from our federal and provincial governments,” explains FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer, Jason Spingle. >click to read< 10:17

CLOSURE WITHOUT CAUSE: Unprecedented Levels of Mackerel Call into Question Minister’s Decision to Close Fishery

Fish harvesters throughout the province are reporting observations of unprecedented levels of mackerel, calling into question the decision by Minister Joyce Murray and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to close the commercial fishery this year. Harvesters are once again asking Minster Murray to take urgent action to reconsider the decision and undertake new survey opportunities to better understand the true health of the mackerel stock. Harvesters throughout the province have been sending in their observations and photos of mackerel schools and unprecedented levels of bycatch during other fisheries. >click to read the rest< 15:03

FFAW-Unifor election ‘democratic farce’: SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) calls the election process followed by the FFAW-Unifor to select a new secretary-treasurer a democratic farce, with thousands of members blocked from taking part in the vote. “The FFAW election is an attack on democracy in terms of a free, open, and transparent election given the absolute corruption of what should be the union’s prized democratic process,” says Merv Wiseman, a member of SEA-NL’s executive board with extensive experience in organizational governance. “The broader public should be concerned anytime we see democratic rights and freedoms usurped,” he added. >click to continue reading< 11:11

I was a kid when the moratorium started. As a union leader, I’m still fighting for change

Three decades have come and gone since the cod moratorium in Newfoundland and Labrador was announced on that fateful day in 1992. I was just 12 years old growing up in Calvert at the time, and the cod fishery was the heart and soul of the Southern Shore from Trepassey to Bay Bulls, just like the communities so many of you called home. My family remained in the fishery after the moratorium, but many others did not. More than 30,000 people lost their livelihoods that day and the landscape of our province was forever changed. By Keith Sullivan >click to read< 13:57

SEA-NL calls for elimination of province’s farcical system of fish pricing before fisheries lost

“There is no point in government being involved in negotiating the price of fish when its appointed panel does not have the power to enforce one price or the other, and its decisions do not result in commercial fisheries,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “The existing system has collapsed with processors refusing to buy for the prices that are set, and inshore fleets remaining tied to the wharf,” he added. “Both sides must stick it out at the negotiating table until a price or contract is hammered out like with any other collective agreement.” >click to read< 16:16

1-year commercial cod moratorium ordered for northern Gulf of St. Lawrence

Two days after the 30th anniversary of the 1992 cod moratorium that decimated the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, Ottawa has closed commercial cod fishing in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. On Monday, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray announced a one-year ban on directed commercial fishing in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence in order to give young fish time to reach maturity. >click to read<

Rebuilding the Cod Fishery in Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence – “This is a tough decision; I recognize this commercial closure will pose economic challenges for many harvesters and comes at a hard time for people in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. >click to read<

 FFAW-Unifor Disappointed with Minister Decision to Close Gulf Cod – Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union is deeply disappointed with Minister Joyce Murray’s decision to close the cod fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The small cod fishery is economically and culturally significant to the region, and science has shown that natural mortality is the key unaddressed factor in the stock’s ability to grow. >click to read< 12:11

Minister Fails to Address Lack of Competition in Seafood Processing

St. JOHN’S, NL – Minister of Fisheries Derrick Bragg announced his decision on important recommendations from the Fish Processing Licensing Board this morning, rejecting numerous recommendations to issue new crab processing licenses and compounding frustrations felt by fish harvesters and communities who have lost out on millions of dollars in potential income this fishing season. A Minister rejecting the Board’s recommendations is both unprecedented and unjustified, as the purpose of the Board is to make unbiased recommendations to protect and benefit the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. A new crab processing license in St. Mary’s Bay is welcomed news to the region and is an important first step in addressing issues in the province’s snow crab industry. However,,, >click to read< 12:48

FFAW Demonstrations Tomorrow (Monday)

FFAW-Unifor is holding demonstrations for all members and community supporters on Monday, March 28 at 11 am at the Confederation Building in St. John’s & Civic Centre in Corner Brook to call attention to unfairness in the setting of fish prices. For years we have asked the provincial government to move forward with policies that would hold processing companies more accountable and to increase competition in fish processing. In particular, we have demanded: >click to read< 20:30

FFAW Launches Awareness Campaign on Seal Overpopulation

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union is launching a nationwide campaign today to call attention to seal overpopulation in Atlantic Canada and the devastating effects on fish stocks. The Union representing fish harvesters is calling on the federal government to immediately undertake adequate scientific work to understand the true impact seals are having off our coasts, and to ensure appropriate action is taken to repair the ecosystem imbalance. Video, graphics, and a lot of information, >click to read< 16:08

SEA-NL says bottom-trawling must be banned from all three adjacent cod stocks (not just two)

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) has recommended that Fisheries and Oceans expand its ban on bottom-trawling to include all three cod stocks off the province’s shores. “Fisheries and Oceans cannot scientifically justify banning bottom-trawling for cod in two adjacent stocks when all three are in the critical zone,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s interim Executive Director. DFO allows for bottom-trawling of the cod stock off southern Newfoundland in fishing zone 3Ps. However, bottom-trawling is banned in the northern cod fishery off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, and for cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. All three cod stocks have been designated by DFO science as in the critical zone, meaning fishing must be kept to a minimum. >click to read< 12:06

SEA-NL: Standing Fish Price Setting Panel

SEA-NL says an immediate priority for the 2022 inshore fishery is for the province to amend its fish price-setting system to address a weakness that cost harvesters untold millions of dollars in last year’s snow crab fishery alone. “Inshore harvesters were not paid a fair-market return from their snow crab sales in 2021 because a provincial government regulation stood in the way,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s interim Executive Director. “The regulation must be amended before the start of the 2022 season, or what little faith that exists in the price-setting system will be gone altogether.”>click to read< 08:05

Non-Fishing Mortality Remains Key Concern in South Coast Cod Update

Today’s 3Ps cod stock assessment update delivered some good news for harvesters on the province’s south coast, but significant concerns regarding natural mortality and the untold impact of seal predation remain. “Fish harvesters on the south coast are looking for better science on this cod stock,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “Natural mortality has been driving the stock for many years. We already know that seals are eating a large amount of cod, but DFO needs their scientists to prove it first. Yet several years into this and we’ve made very little headway,” >click to read< 16:39

Access: Fight over emerging redfish fishery amps up as offshore sector bites back

In a highly managed media event staged at Memorial University’s Signal Hill campus, officials from the Atlantic Groundfish Council, which represents more than 100 offshore groundfish licence holders in Atlantic Canada, and Ocean Choice International, fought back against what they say is an attack that threatens the livelihood of people linked to the offshore sector. “It’s time this attack stops. It’s negative. It’s divisive and it’s not good for the province,” said Martin Sullivan, CEO and co-owner of Ocean Choice International,,, >click to read< 07:51