The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union and fish harvesters in 3Ps, on the province’s south coast, are calling on the federal government to take immediate action to address the severe economic challenges facing harvesters in the area.
As a result of an unprecedented decline of fish resources in the area, harvesters are experiencing conditions that rival the cod moratorium, the FFAW stated in a press release.
“Through no fault of their own, harvesters in 3Ps are struggling to maintain an economically viable fishery,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor president. “The federal government must step in because harvesters cannot address this crisis on their own.”
There are more than 700 harvesting licenses in 3Ps and most harvesters rely heavily on snow crab. The snow crab fishery in the region has experienced a serious decline in recent years with quotas falling from 6,467 MT in 2013 to 4,299 MT in 2015. So far in 2016, harvesters are reporting extremely poor catches, Sullivan explained.
Harvesters in this region have also depended on cod. However, in recent years they have grown concerned about the health of the stock. In 2010, harvesters caught 100 per cent of their quota and despite the desperate need for income in 2015, only 42 per cent was landed.
In addition to this, whelk availability has declined, going from a catch of 4,636 MT in 2012 (100 per cent of quota) to 2,294 MT in 2015 (just 46 per cent of the available quota).
“Both short and long-term measures are needed to ensure stable and sustainable futures for harvesters in 3Ps,” continued Sullivan. “Immediately implementing an EI extension for harvesters in addition to investing in an income improvement program will provide the support harvesters in the area desperately need.”
FFAW-Unifor has requested a meeting with the Honourable Judy Foote, Member of Parliament for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity to discuss solutions to the urgent issues facing her constituents.