FFAW, processors agree

James
James McLeod
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Government has to solve crab crisis

After two days of meetings, seafood harvesters and processors could agree on one thing: the next move is the provincial government's.

The meeting comes after a two-week stalemate that has delayed the start of the province's crab fishery.

Earle McCurdy

After two days of meetings, seafood harvesters and processors could agree on one thing: the next move is the provincial government's.

The meeting comes after a two-week stalemate that has delayed the start of the province's crab fishery.

Fish Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy said they're asking for a meeting with Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman within 24 hours to address the crisis.

Later in the day Jackman said that wouldn't happen until he was given a written proposal for how to fix the fishery.

Both McCurdy and representatives from the province's seafood processors said they had some ideas on how to end the impasse - and they all agreed that nothing would get solved without government intervention.

"We're prepared to go hand-in-hand with the union and say 'we've got a fishery in crisis,'" said Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers.

"Let's go in and say to government, 'What, if anything, are you prepared to do?'"

One idea McCurdy floated was for the government to provide loan guarantees - perhaps as much as $150 million worth - to allow processors to buy crab when the season opens.

"Because of the huge volumes, and we're talking raw material outlay - to buy the raw material you're talking in excess of $150 million," McCurdy said.

He said "it's quite possible it wouldn't cost (the government) a penny."

The crab season opened on April 1, with the price setting panel declaring a price of $1.35 per pound.

Fishermen said the price was too low; processors said they couldn't afford to buy crab at that price.

Jackman has been calling for talks between the two sides.

"I feel like I'm doing as much as I can," he said on April 4.

Friday, he said he was "pleased" that the harvesters and processors were meeting, but wouldn't sit down with the two parties until they presented him with a written proposal.

And while he wouldn't rule out loan guarantees for processors, Jackman said he won't entertain any sort of one-time fix.

"I'm not interested in bringing forward to cabinet huge sums of money as a short-term measure without having something that's going to make it different next year," he said. "We've got to ask, 'who's going to start the fishery here?' I can't start the fishery, nor can government."

Meanwhile, both Butler and George Joyce, executive director of the seafood processors of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the fishery can't start without some intervention from Jackman.

"There will be no fishery for a $1.35 for a pound of crab unless there is some further involvement or some help," Joyce said.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Allied Workers, Association of Seafood Producers, Butler and George Joyce

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • nffisher
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    I am a fisherman,like my father and his father and his father. Do any of the people that comented above have any idea about the fishery. From what I can understand the FFAW or the Seafood producers are NOT looking for handouts or subsidys. The Seafood producers want loans or financing help. What is happening is some of the producers dont have the cash flow to make payroll so they sell their product cheaper by undercutting their competitors. This has a domino effect on the price that all other producers recieve. If they can get loans against their product, they can hold it until they get a fair market price. This would keep the price higher or more stable and the returns for all sectors would be better. In my opinion the general public only like poor fisherman and when they start to get ahead everyone is against them. Anyways thats my opinion.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    More involvement by government is not the answer. Heddereson needs to step away from this fiasco and let the two sides sort it out themselves. The producers cannot afford to miss a season - they will lose cash flow and risk losing their subsidized seasonal workforce. The union faces the prospect of losing paying members permanently. I suggest calling their bluff and let them work it out - government has nothing to lose.

  • harry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE THE POOR FISHER MEN N THEIR FISHER WIVES WHAT THEY WANT THEIR TRUCKS CARS AND ATVS ARE NEARLY WORN OUT THEY HAVE THEN THIS TWO YRS FOR GODS SAKE ,OH AND THEIR CAMPERS N CABINS NEED REFURBISHING ALSO .. ALONG WITH THEIR NIKE RUNNERS N COLOMBIA JACKETS , FOR =GOD SAKE HELP THEM ...

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Maybe, the union should look at buying and operating some processing plants if they think there is so much money in that part of the business. Oops, shades of Wm Coaker - that was already tried and as I recall it failed.

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Surprise surprise, the processors and f\harvesters agree that government should bail them out ONCE AGAIN!!!!

    Am I the only one sick of this nonsense every bloody year?

    I keep hearing how much the fishery industry injects in to the economy, but how can that be if the government (us the taxpayers) are bailing it out every bloody year, not to mention all the EI gobled up by those in this (psudo) industry.

    It is high time that the fishery be rationalized. It is high time that the fishery becomes a profession, not a part time, highly subsidized make work project.

    We finaly want our elected officials to deal with this now.

  • Robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    I have never seen so much ignorance and stupidity in one place in all my life. Loan guarantees are NOT HANDOUTS people. They don't want government money, period. The two sides have asked the province to basically co-sign on a loan to allow producers to go to the bank and have the cashflow necessary to buy product and sell it sensibly. Cash flow problems often force producers to sell product in a friday night frenzy format because they need cash - having a loan guarantee means they won't have to do that and can sell product into the market in a more consistent, less urgent manner to ensure the price stays up as much as possible - hopefully to at least $1.35.
    The next time one of you experts starts whining and bawling about poor fishermen, maybe you should take a second and actually read the story first hey? God, it's embarrassing to read some of the uneducated drivel that appears whenever there's any kind of fishery story.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Without sounding rude here can someone please explain to me why the fisherpeople, think that everytime there is a crisis in the industry that the government has to comeup wtih handouts for them.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Here we go again, every other resource we require that the developer pay a fee / royalty to access it. For the fishery resource we charge no resource fee. For the fishery, we subsidize the boats, the fishing gear (everytime there is a storm), we pay to build the wharfs, slipways, give them tax exemptions on their fuel. We supply EI every year in their off season both for the fisherperson, spouse and often the rest of the family who works in the processing plant. br br If we do give them anything - make it a loan that they have to repay with interest . Enough of demanding that the government subsidize them any more. It's not the government that pays these subsidies - it's the TAXPAYERS. Often taxpayers who earn less than these fisherpersons or the unionized plantworkers, or plant owners. br br Enough, Enough, Enough. It's time to pay your own way like the rest of us. Don't talk about bailouts - almost all of them were loans to be paid back - you are looking for another gift.

  • Surprised
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Please, please, please Government listen to the Taxpayers, NO MORE TAXPAYERS MONEY TO THE FISHERY.

    The Fishery must now make it on its own, just like most every other industry or job in this Province.

  • vincent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    The fishermans union.They call this group a union,a union offers benefits,health plans and in general a better life for its members.The fisherman union offers nothing only pipedreams of fairplay and fair pricing.Fisherman,wake up,this so-called union is not a union.It does absolutely nothing to benefit you and your family.

  • Free
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    $150 Million? Seriously? How about the government let free enterprise reign, no set price and let the industry sink or swim. Fishers can sell their catch to the highest bidder. If the processors or fishers go under, so be it.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    The only thing I would call this is an agreement to ask the Provincial government / taxpayers to bail out the fishing industry again.

    Somebody has got to sit down, (not just a month before the fishery is scheduled to start), and try and come up some solutions for the state of our fishing industry.

    We cannot continue to come up with band aid solutions for something that probably requires open heart surgery.

    If this fishery is not economically feasible for the harvesters or the processors why proceed with the fishery at all?

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Price actually received = $1.35 per lb + the under the table tax-free payments + EI for some who don't actually work for it, etc etc. Yes, issues need resolving but abuses also need to be addressed.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    The only control suppliers have over the price of a commodity is to reduce the supply. br br All this other stuff is expensive, artificial and useless meddling in markets. It has never worked and it never will. br br The only other feasible solution is to de-commodify the product by adding value tio it before selling. br br Everything else is just vote-buying. 30-year problems are not resolved with 3-year band aids.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    nffisher what about the working poor of the province, what about the individuals who come out of school owing 40k +, what about the seniors who are on a fixed income, where the hell is the help for them. You said In my opinion the general public only like poor fisherman and when they start to get ahead everyone is against them can you blame us. All we hear about is the POOR FISHERMEN this and the POOR FISHERMEN that, and then you go out and then you see the pick up trucks the quads the trailers parked in the STARVING FISHERMEN's driveways. BTW I come from a fishing family and still have cousins in the fishing industry.

  • Harry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    How truly amazing, both agree to ask Government for financial support!! What collateral will each of them offer to secure Government's backing of such a guarantee that wouldn't cost a penny?
    There are no free lunches, and this is no exception.

  • Partisan Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Seems to me that every time there is a problem in the fishery , our tax dollars are needed to bail it out. Maybe its time the fishery stood on its own feet. In any commercial enterprise if you don't make money, you go bankrupt. I'm sick of hearing about need government bailouts:

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    This amounts to taxpayer extortion. The harvesters and the processors can't both be right. Either the market can bear a price of $1.35 or it can't. It is either too high, or it is too low, but it can't be both too high and too low at the same time. Let the fishermen sell outside of the province, or let the processors idle their operations and see which side first blinks. If financing is the problem, then maybe the industry's 'rationalizing' should involve a greater number of smaller players, so the capital risk isn't so great. If nobody can get a loan or a guarantee to cover a plant or a large vessel, then what's the point of 'rationalizing' the industry into bigger and bigger coroprate players?

  • randy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Can you really expect Jackman or lord Dan to care about rural nl??? This is the same 'Jackman' who didn't realize FPI had sold several ships a few yrs ago,that provided fish for the Marystown plant ,in his own district.Danny had no problem provideing millions to his buddys in ,persona, a few yrs ago,or to his oil friends,.He stood by,and watched the fpi act,thrown out the window several years ago,.Maybe the peaple of Bonavista,Triton,Trouty, Fogo etc etc will finally awake,and realize they have nobody speaking for them anymore..

  • tired of your bull
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    yip

  • nffisher
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    I am a fisherman,like my father and his father and his father. Do any of the people that comented above have any idea about the fishery. From what I can understand the FFAW or the Seafood producers are NOT looking for handouts or subsidys. The Seafood producers want loans or financing help. What is happening is some of the producers dont have the cash flow to make payroll so they sell their product cheaper by undercutting their competitors. This has a domino effect on the price that all other producers recieve. If they can get loans against their product, they can hold it until they get a fair market price. This would keep the price higher or more stable and the returns for all sectors would be better. In my opinion the general public only like poor fisherman and when they start to get ahead everyone is against them. Anyways thats my opinion.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    More involvement by government is not the answer. Heddereson needs to step away from this fiasco and let the two sides sort it out themselves. The producers cannot afford to miss a season - they will lose cash flow and risk losing their subsidized seasonal workforce. The union faces the prospect of losing paying members permanently. I suggest calling their bluff and let them work it out - government has nothing to lose.

  • harry
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE THE POOR FISHER MEN N THEIR FISHER WIVES WHAT THEY WANT THEIR TRUCKS CARS AND ATVS ARE NEARLY WORN OUT THEY HAVE THEN THIS TWO YRS FOR GODS SAKE ,OH AND THEIR CAMPERS N CABINS NEED REFURBISHING ALSO .. ALONG WITH THEIR NIKE RUNNERS N COLOMBIA JACKETS , FOR =GOD SAKE HELP THEM ...

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Maybe, the union should look at buying and operating some processing plants if they think there is so much money in that part of the business. Oops, shades of Wm Coaker - that was already tried and as I recall it failed.

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Surprise surprise, the processors and f\harvesters agree that government should bail them out ONCE AGAIN!!!!

    Am I the only one sick of this nonsense every bloody year?

    I keep hearing how much the fishery industry injects in to the economy, but how can that be if the government (us the taxpayers) are bailing it out every bloody year, not to mention all the EI gobled up by those in this (psudo) industry.

    It is high time that the fishery be rationalized. It is high time that the fishery becomes a profession, not a part time, highly subsidized make work project.

    We finaly want our elected officials to deal with this now.

  • Robert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    I have never seen so much ignorance and stupidity in one place in all my life. Loan guarantees are NOT HANDOUTS people. They don't want government money, period. The two sides have asked the province to basically co-sign on a loan to allow producers to go to the bank and have the cashflow necessary to buy product and sell it sensibly. Cash flow problems often force producers to sell product in a friday night frenzy format because they need cash - having a loan guarantee means they won't have to do that and can sell product into the market in a more consistent, less urgent manner to ensure the price stays up as much as possible - hopefully to at least $1.35.
    The next time one of you experts starts whining and bawling about poor fishermen, maybe you should take a second and actually read the story first hey? God, it's embarrassing to read some of the uneducated drivel that appears whenever there's any kind of fishery story.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Without sounding rude here can someone please explain to me why the fisherpeople, think that everytime there is a crisis in the industry that the government has to comeup wtih handouts for them.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Here we go again, every other resource we require that the developer pay a fee / royalty to access it. For the fishery resource we charge no resource fee. For the fishery, we subsidize the boats, the fishing gear (everytime there is a storm), we pay to build the wharfs, slipways, give them tax exemptions on their fuel. We supply EI every year in their off season both for the fisherperson, spouse and often the rest of the family who works in the processing plant. br br If we do give them anything - make it a loan that they have to repay with interest . Enough of demanding that the government subsidize them any more. It's not the government that pays these subsidies - it's the TAXPAYERS. Often taxpayers who earn less than these fisherpersons or the unionized plantworkers, or plant owners. br br Enough, Enough, Enough. It's time to pay your own way like the rest of us. Don't talk about bailouts - almost all of them were loans to be paid back - you are looking for another gift.

  • Surprised
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Please, please, please Government listen to the Taxpayers, NO MORE TAXPAYERS MONEY TO THE FISHERY.

    The Fishery must now make it on its own, just like most every other industry or job in this Province.

  • vincent
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    The fishermans union.They call this group a union,a union offers benefits,health plans and in general a better life for its members.The fisherman union offers nothing only pipedreams of fairplay and fair pricing.Fisherman,wake up,this so-called union is not a union.It does absolutely nothing to benefit you and your family.

  • Free
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    $150 Million? Seriously? How about the government let free enterprise reign, no set price and let the industry sink or swim. Fishers can sell their catch to the highest bidder. If the processors or fishers go under, so be it.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    The only thing I would call this is an agreement to ask the Provincial government / taxpayers to bail out the fishing industry again.

    Somebody has got to sit down, (not just a month before the fishery is scheduled to start), and try and come up some solutions for the state of our fishing industry.

    We cannot continue to come up with band aid solutions for something that probably requires open heart surgery.

    If this fishery is not economically feasible for the harvesters or the processors why proceed with the fishery at all?

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Price actually received = $1.35 per lb + the under the table tax-free payments + EI for some who don't actually work for it, etc etc. Yes, issues need resolving but abuses also need to be addressed.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    The only control suppliers have over the price of a commodity is to reduce the supply. br br All this other stuff is expensive, artificial and useless meddling in markets. It has never worked and it never will. br br The only other feasible solution is to de-commodify the product by adding value tio it before selling. br br Everything else is just vote-buying. 30-year problems are not resolved with 3-year band aids.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    nffisher what about the working poor of the province, what about the individuals who come out of school owing 40k +, what about the seniors who are on a fixed income, where the hell is the help for them. You said In my opinion the general public only like poor fisherman and when they start to get ahead everyone is against them can you blame us. All we hear about is the POOR FISHERMEN this and the POOR FISHERMEN that, and then you go out and then you see the pick up trucks the quads the trailers parked in the STARVING FISHERMEN's driveways. BTW I come from a fishing family and still have cousins in the fishing industry.

  • Harry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    How truly amazing, both agree to ask Government for financial support!! What collateral will each of them offer to secure Government's backing of such a guarantee that wouldn't cost a penny?
    There are no free lunches, and this is no exception.

  • Partisan Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Seems to me that every time there is a problem in the fishery , our tax dollars are needed to bail it out. Maybe its time the fishery stood on its own feet. In any commercial enterprise if you don't make money, you go bankrupt. I'm sick of hearing about need government bailouts:

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    This amounts to taxpayer extortion. The harvesters and the processors can't both be right. Either the market can bear a price of $1.35 or it can't. It is either too high, or it is too low, but it can't be both too high and too low at the same time. Let the fishermen sell outside of the province, or let the processors idle their operations and see which side first blinks. If financing is the problem, then maybe the industry's 'rationalizing' should involve a greater number of smaller players, so the capital risk isn't so great. If nobody can get a loan or a guarantee to cover a plant or a large vessel, then what's the point of 'rationalizing' the industry into bigger and bigger coroprate players?

  • randy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Can you really expect Jackman or lord Dan to care about rural nl??? This is the same 'Jackman' who didn't realize FPI had sold several ships a few yrs ago,that provided fish for the Marystown plant ,in his own district.Danny had no problem provideing millions to his buddys in ,persona, a few yrs ago,or to his oil friends,.He stood by,and watched the fpi act,thrown out the window several years ago,.Maybe the peaple of Bonavista,Triton,Trouty, Fogo etc etc will finally awake,and realize they have nobody speaking for them anymore..

  • tired of your bull
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    yip