Seafood market plan needed, FFAW says

Everton McLean
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Fishery

This province needs a plan to deal with what could be a dire fishing season in 2009, says Fish, Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy.

McCurdy met with provincial Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson Monday in an effort to get government working on a plan in case the low dollar and fuel prices can't offset the expected weak market for many species.

Fish, Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy says in light of a possible global recession and the effect it could have on seafood markets, this province needs a plan for 2009. - Photo by Everton McLean/The Telegram

This province needs a plan to deal with what could be a dire fishing season in 2009, says Fish, Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union president Earle McCurdy.

McCurdy met with provincial Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson Monday in an effort to get government working on a plan in case the low dollar and fuel prices can't offset the expected weak market for many species.

"The main purpose of the meeting was to alert the minister to our serious concerns about the potential impact of the world economic meltdown on our fishery in 2009," he said.

McCurdy said that as the world enters into a possible recession, markets for seafood could fall and this province needs to be ready for it.

"The time to be trying to plan for that is now. We do not have the luxury of waiting until April to see what happens," he said.

"I think there's a very, very high probability that what happens (is) we'll have a complete shambles."

McCurdy said he also discussed the need for harvesters to have capital available to them.

"We firmly believe there's a role for government to play there in terms of making capital available," he said.

"The have-not province of Quebec, the have-not province of New Brunswick, the have-not province of Nova Scotia and the have-not province of P.E.I all have a fisheries loan board and the have province of Newfoundland and Labrador, here, we do not have a fisheries loan board."

Hedderson, however, said while there is no loan board, there is a loan guarantee program.

The minister said he plans to meet with McCurdy and industry representatives early in the new year to discuss fisheries issues and to see if some sort of government intervention is needed.

He also said he has met with processors recently and discussed creating a fish marketing council.

"That would be very opportune at this particular time, knowing perhaps the markets that are there in the fishery right now might not be there next year," he said.

"We're just looking at trying to support our harvesters in any way that we can to make sure they have viable enterprises and they have opportunities through our programs to allow themselves to do that."

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Allied Workers

Geographic location: Province of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia Newfoundland and Labrador

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