FISH-NL questions whether FFAW retaliating against inshore harvesters of the Great Northern Peninsula for taking union to court


The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) questions whether the FFAW-Unifor has purposely chosen not to take a stand for inshore harvesters of the Great Northern Peninsula in retaliation for some of them taking the union to court.

“The FFAW-Unifor’s silence on a redfish quota to the Qalipu First Nation when inshore harvesters are barely hanging on and desperate for fish is bizarre,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “One explanation is that the union is retaliating against harvesters who took a stand against it.”

During a news conference on Newfoundland’s west coast earlier this week, it was announced that the Barry Group, headed by west coast businessman Bill Barry, has formed a partnership with the Qalipu First Nation, and are in talks with Ottawa for a redfish quota in the Gulf.

Gulf of St. Lawrence redfish has been under moratorium since 1995, but the stock is said to be experiencing a dramatic turnaround. By the time a quota is allocated in 2019, it could be in the tens of thousands of tonnes.

There’s no word on how much redfish the Qalipu band are looking for from Ottawa, but the fact that federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc, along with Premier Dwight Ball and provincial Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker attended the announcement is an indication they support an allocation to the band.

Meantime, inshore harvesters from the Great Northern Peninsula say they should have priority access to redfish, considering they live adjacent to the resource, have an historical attachment, and are desperate for fish to catch.

Quotas for northern and Gulf shrimp, among other species, have been cut drastically in recent years, with many harvesters barely hanging on.

In mid June, the Supreme Court of NL, Court of Appeal, upheld an earlier court decision that the FFAW deceived scallop harvesters in the Strait of Belle Isle over a Nalcor compensation package for power lines connecting Muskrat Falls power to the island portion of the province.

Many of the 71 fishermen who were behind the lawsuit would also fish redfish in the Gulf.

“As usual, the FFAW-Unifor has some explaining to do as to why it’s not supporting its membership,” said Cleary.

Contact Ryan Cleary: 682 4862