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LETTER: Single union can’t represent all sides of fishery

Local fishermen want the opportunity to sell their catch to outside the buyers.
- SaltWire File Photo

Is it a coincidence that the FFAW-Unifor gave out free codfish on the St. John’s waterfront Monday morning (Aug. 12) at the same time that FISH-NL held a news conference to announce a second membership drive?

Any trouble swallowing the idea that the foolish fish giveaway forced Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne’s hand into opening the door a crack to outside buyers, where six months before he had slammed the door at the suggestion?

Remember this: no matter what the FFAW throws on the table over the next 90 days during FISH-NL’s membership drive, one single union cannot represent all sides in the fishing industry.

Inshore harvesters, plant workers, workers on offshore factory-freezer trawlers, aquaculture workers, workers on oil tankers, workers on seismic boats, cold-storage workers, etc., under one FFAW umbrella, does not work.

Not for inshore harvesters it doesn’t.

Then consider the fact the FFAW operates as a union/manager in more and more fisheries; is paid millions of dollars a year from the Government of Canada it’s expected to hold to account for fisheries management; refuses to reveal the amount of funding it receives from the oil and gas industry; and often seems to function in conflict of interest with the very members it serves.

Now look at the state of the commercial fisheries: most commercial stocks are at/near critical levels, and the sharing arrangements for various species directly off our shores — from turbot and halibut to scallops and snow crab — are pathetic.

Our inshore harvesters are steadily losing access to adjacent fish stocks to the Maritimes, Quebec and foreign nations.

This has all happened under the FFAW-Unifor’s watch.

A question I’m often asked is how will inshore harvesters be immediately better off represented by FISH-NL over the FFAW-Unifor?

Simple. If the leadership of FISH-NL isn’t doing the job, they can be voted out.

Ryan Cleary,
President, FISH-NL


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