Tag Archives: FFAW-Unifor

Harvesters Won’t Fish for Panel Price, Colossal Failure of Price Setting Panel Continues

The offer from the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) fails to provide a fair distribution of value and highlights the total failure of the price setting system in the province, and harvesters are refusing to fish. “The ask here is straightforward—capelin harvesters are seeking a fair share of the value derived from the capelin fishery. We are proposing a formula-based system that would account for market uncertainties and ensure that the value is evenly split between processors and harvesters. We need to guarantee that at least half the value of the fishery remains with the workers in Newfoundland and Labrador,” explains FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “If ASP members are serious about this being a shared industry under threat, then give us our fair share,” says Trevor Jones, fish harvester and Negotiating Committee member. “If the Province is serious about preserving the inshore fishery and keeping the value of the fishery in the hands of workers in this province, then they have to take a stronger stance. A minimum price must be a fair price,” says Jones. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 11:12

Newfoundland and Labrador: Crab Harvesters Demand Fair Share

The crab fishing season officially started on Saturday, April 6th, yet all harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador stayed tied up demanding their fair share. The Blackwood Report, commissioned by the province, demonstrated a fair-sharing arrangement for fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador. Harvesters refuse to fish for any formula that undersells their slice of the pie. What are harvesters demanding: more, >>click to read<< 09:24

Panel Selects ASP Formula, Pulling Fair Market Share from Harvester Reach

Minutes ago, the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel announced their decision for the 2024 snow crab season, siding with the Association of Seafood Producers formula. FFAW’s offer was based on the Blackwood report and would have seen harvesters capture a fair market value based on historic shares. ASP’s formula is not based on historic data, nor was justification found within their submission document. Moreover, there is no mechanism for harvesters to benefit as the market increases. ASP caps harvester share at 37% once the market reaches $8.02CAD, contrary to historic pricing shares that increases the harvester share as market prices increase. more, including 2024 Crab Fishery Decision, >>click to read<< 19:50

FFAW Calls for Drastic Changes to Provincial Processing Licensing Amid Harvester Protests in St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor is calling on the provincial government to listen to protesting fish harvesters by lifting all processing caps in the province, grant new processing licenses, and remove restrictions on outside buyers. “Fish harvesters in our province have been disadvantaged long enough. The situation has gotten so severe in recent years that a very large number are now facing imminent bankruptcy due to the cartel-like environment processing companies enjoy here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” explains Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor. “When fish harvesters cannot find a buyer for their catch – we have a serious problem. This province cannot have a thriving fishery if fish harvesters are not succeeding, and the current wall of opposition they face makes success unattainable,” Pretty says. more, >>click to read<< 15:01

Response to ASP Grievance on Crab Tie-Up – What the Decision Means and Next Steps

Statement from Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President – February 21, 2024 – The 2023 crab tie-up was an extremely difficult time for the entire province and our members in both fishing and processing. Unfortunately, fish harvesters felt they had to act but outdated legislation makes it illegal for harvesters to strike, as well as illegal for the Union to ‘authorize or declare a cessation of business dealings’ It is this specific language where the arbitrator found FFAW-Unifor liable. Instead of helping to resolve the catastrophically low-price in spring of 2023, ASP sat back and watched the fishery fall – only later deciding to take legal action 6 months after the issue was resolved and fishery complete. more, >>click to read<< 08:14

Commercial redfish fishery to reopen, but pending quota threatens to push some fishers out

“It hurts me to talk about it,” says Brad Genge, a 51-year-old inshore fisherman from Anchor Point, on the west coast of Newfoundland’s northern peninsula. Genge says what should have been a good news story – the Government of Canada’s historic reopening of the east coast commercial redfish fishery – is hitting fishermen in this province hard.  “Worst news we could have gotten,” says Genge. “Only thing that could have hurt more is if they came down and hit us in the face with a piece of lumber.” “We are done, we are out of the fishery,” says Genge, who tied up his trawler, the BNB Mariner, in early February. Video, more, >>click to read<< 08:22


FFAW-Unifor is holding a demonstration tomorrow, Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 1:00pm outside of the DFO Building located at 1 Regent Square in Corner Brook. The Demonstration is to call attention to federal mismanagement of fisheries – in particular the recent decision by Minister Diane Lebouthillier to allocate nearly 60% of the newly commercialized Unit 1 Redfish fishery to a handful of corporate offshore draggers, instead of the 100 or so inshore, owner-operator vessels that rely on it. Minister Lebouthillier has failed in her capacity as Minister to make decisions based on her mandate and the federal Fisheries Act. Specifically, management decisions should prioritize social, economic, and cultural factors as well as the preservation and promotion of the independence of independent license holders. None of which was evident in the Minister’s decision. more, >>click to read<< 16:11

Dear Seamus: All Seasonal Workers Want for Christmas is Dignity and Respect

This Christmas season, seasonal workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are in crisis due to a failure of the federal government. Despite months of broken promises, the federal government has largely failed to support seasonal workers facing financial crisis this winter season.  This Union signalled the coming crisis to the federal government back in April when the markets for snow crab collapsed. At the time, FFAW-Unifor proposed needed changes to the federal employment insurance (EI) system and income supplements for all affected fish harvesters and plant workers.  “The crab fishery came and went, and just as the fishing season began to wind down and folks prepared to file their annual EI claims, the federal criteria for EI changed. more, >>click to read<< 14:26

MOU to Advance Wind Energy Cannot Be at Expense of Fishing Industry

December 6, 2023 – FFAW-Unifor is dismayed at today’s news from the provincial and federal governments announcing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at expediting the development of wind energy in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Union is calling for a clear commitment from the Provincial Government that priority will be given during the regulatory process to consult with affected industries, in particular the fishing industry, and asks for clarifications on other issues. “Previously, the jurisdiction of offshore and nearshore energy developments has been unclear, so today’s announcement does provide a clearer path for regulation. However, the Union is concerned that the MOU fails to clarify the government’s commitment to engage with primary ocean users and not rush through regulatory processes,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. more, >>click to read<< 16:30

FFAW asks for quota increases, full northern cod assessment following 2023 stewardship fishery closure

The FFAW-Unifor is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to prioritize the province’s northern cod fishery. Jason Spingle, FFAW secretary-treasurer, said the catch rates for northern cod this year have been high despite the slow start, landing the entire quota in six weeks lasting only a few days into the fall season. “Our union requested a modest increase to this year’s quota that would be in line with the increasing stock, however, the minister at the time instead proceeded with a quota rollover,” said Spingle. “The result is a fishery where many harvesters only managed a handful of trips and when compounded with the employment insurance pressures this year. It’s truly a crisis situation for many people.” >>click to read<< 12:37

FFAW Welcomes New Federal Fisheries Minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal cabinet shuffle today has announced Diane Lebouthillier as the new Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, replacing the Joyce Murray as the federal head of fisheries management. The Union that represents all inshore fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador looks forward to working with Minister Lebouthillier, hoping for a renewed focus on robust science and economically sustainable management.  >click to read< 12:53

FFAW: Conflict Brews At-Sea as Drill Rig Takes Over Prime Crab Grounds

July 21, 2023 – Crab harvesters on the Avalon Peninsula are calling out the oil and gas industry as the Hercules drill rig, operated by ExxonMobil in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, is in direct conflict with traditional prime fishing grounds. Despite vocal opposition from FFAW-Unifor throughout the consultation process with the regulatory body, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the Board and Exxon proceeded with the drill operations during peak fishing time in an especially difficult year for harvesters. “Our members feel this brewing spatial conflict is representative of the continuous disregard for the fishing industry. Expansion of the oil and gas industry needs to be considered alongside the fishery, not in priority to it,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. >click to read the press release< 14:28

Fairness in Scheduling and the Targeted Elimination of the Small-Boat Fleet

Three weeks into the snow crab fishery and dozens of attempts made to work out a fair arrangement for fish harvesters, FFAW-Unifor is calling on the provincial government to better regulate processing companies, issue additional processing licenses, and open the province up to outside buyers immediately to allow inshore harvesters to sell their catch. “Processing companies are engaging in unethical business behaviour to the targeted detriment of the small boat fleet in our province. The fishery may be open with a price agreement in place, but with no avenue to sell, harvesters are still in crisis,” says FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle. “Our Union has made every effort this year to work out a fair proposal to ensure all fleets have a fair opportunity to participate in the fishery, but at every turn we’ve only been met with the same fish merchant-style tactics,” he says. >click to read< 15:10

Union Launches Call for Economic Support for Crab Industry

Today, FFAW-Unifor is launching a campaign for federal support for those impacted by the post-pandemic collapse in the snow crab fishery. The detailed proposal includes income support requests for fish harvesters, fishery workers, and enterprise owners, to address significant income shortages this year and provide the help needed to make it to next season. The fishery is a reliable, sustainable, and important source of economic development for coastal communities with over 7,500 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians relying on the crab solely or mostly for their livelihood. The current crisis can be attributed to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic stimulus spending in the United States, the Russian/Ukraine challenge and Russia’s takeover of Japanese seafood markets,,, click to read< 09:43

Trouble brewing if Royal Greenland doesn’t start buying crab from under 40’ fleet: SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) says enterprise owners in the under 40’ fleet warn there will be trouble if Quin-Sea/Royal Greenland doesn’t start buying snow crab from them, and processing companies are not reined in. “Forget tie-up, someone could be strung up,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “The 2023 crab dispute is not over yet, and tensions will boil over unless the union stands up for its members, and the provincial government supports small-boat fishermen against the foreign country trying to drive them under.” >click to read press release< 07:26

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