Today, fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are celebrating World Fisheries Day.
In the history of our Union, tens of thousands of fish harvesters and plant workers have held an FFAW card and the collective effort of these individuals has moved the fishery from an industry defined by poverty to one defined by economic opportunity, good levels of pay, and the engine for the rural middle class in the province. The strength of our union is not simply measured by the number of members we have, but by our ability to pull together in the face of adversity.
The principles that guided the foundation of the Union for harvesters – fair prices, independence from companies, a stronger voice to address federal and provincial governments – remain as important today as they did in decades past.
Many years of effort and the collective strength of our union and our allies in fisheries organizations across the country paid off in late 2017 when the federal government tabled amendments to the Fisheries Act that strengthen owner-operator and fleet separation.
Despite quota declines in many key species, in the past few years collective bargaining has resulted in the highest per pound prices for several fish species that have been essential to the well-being of fish harvesters.
FFAW-Unifor fights every day to protect what was gained in the past, as well as for the changes that should be made in the present and for the future. We work to address challenges and to create new opportunities in our fishery.
Harvesters today play a crucial role in fisheries science – as stewards of the resource they rely on. We will not repeat the mistakes of our past, and we must hold government and corporations to account to protect our resources and our livelihoods.
We envision a sustainable fishery that supports vibrant communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador for generations to come.