FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan, Industrial-Retail-Offshore Director Greg Pretty, Inshore Vice-President Tony Doyle and Assistant to the President Jessica McCormick met with federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson on December 3 in St. John’s. Minister Wilkinson was in St. John’s to participate in meetings of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers.
FFAW-Unifor used the opportunity to meet with the Minister to discuss recent issues impacting Union members. Representatives raised the importance of amendments to the Fisheries Act that protect independent owner-operators and the need for clear regulations that enforce policies. Discussions also focused on the importance of fish harvester knowledge and input in DFO science and management processes. Sullivan raised concerns with current science and management of Northern cod and emphasized the concerns fish harvesters have with the recently proposed precautionary approach framework for snow crab.
IRO Director Greg Pretty raised the importance of good jobs in fish processing and the federal government’s role in protecting jobs in Grand Bank that could have been impacted by a reduction in the Arctic surf clam quota last year. Pretty also discussed the precarious nature of aquaculture processing jobs in the province and highlighted the challenges workers in St. Alban’s and Harbour Breton have experienced in recent years.
Union representatives also highlighted increasing concerns with oil and gas activity off the coast of the province and the double standard of allowing this activity to take place in designated Marine Refuge areas.
FFAW-Unifor has consistently brought issues directly to Minister Wilkinson and his staff as they arise. We’ve been successful in pressuring the Minister to reverse recent decisions on sea cucumber and surf clam that would have negatively impacted our members. We will continue to advocate to the Minister the importance of meaningful engagement and consultation with fish harvesters – the key stakeholder in the inshore fishery.