ST. JOHN’S, NL - August 17, 2017 - FFAW-Unifor members frustrated by a lack of crucial unloading equipment at the port in Tapper’s Cove, Torbay will soon be safely unloading their catches, thanks to an incredible show of solidarity from fellow FFAW-Unifor local, Steel Fab Industries. After hearing of the Torbay fish harvesters’ plight, the local fabrication company stepped forward to offer a jib crane to assist the harvesters in unloading their catch safely.
“The offer by Steel Fab Industries is what being a union and working together is all about,” said FFAW-Unifor Industrial Director Greg Pretty. “When their harvesting brothers and sisters spoke out they saw an opportunity to help. That is solidarity.”
As the commercial cod fishery returns to the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the amount of fish being landed at traditional ports is increasing. Crucial infrastructure, such as the jib crane sought by Torbay harvesters, was removed from many ports but this equipment is now more necessary than ever as harvesters begin landing cod again. Manually lifting their catch is a serious safety concern for the fish harvesting industry.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Small Craft Harbours had originally quoted the piece of equipment at $50,000, an investment that the Department would not commit to as the Department had already completed wharf upgrades – a move harvesters say has benefitted recreational fishers more than the commercial sector. Harvesters were frustrated, but the generous offer from Steel Fab has helped alleviate some of the frustration and uncertainty faced by harvesters as the cod fishery returns.
“Cod is what made this place and it is what will make it again,” said Tapper’s Cove fish harvester, Tom Martin. “I looked the other day at the grandsons of one fisherman and knew they are the future. We want to make sure that, like us, they are able to land fish in Tapper’s Cove and keep this historic fishing port alive.”
Approval for installation of the donated jib crane is currently before DFO, and harvesters are hopeful the crucial piece of equipment will be installed before the cod fishing season comes to a close.
Harvesters are still concerned for the future of commercial harvesting in Torbay and FFAW-Unifor is working diligently to ensure DFO Small Craft Harbours understands its mandate of maintaining “an essential, affordable, national network of safe and accessible harbours, in good working condition, that meets the principal and evolving needs of the commercial fishing industry.”
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