The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH NL) has proposed that the provincial government lift all restrictions and allow out-of-province buyers into the provincial marketplace for all species.
“An open and free market in the fishing industry would, at best, result in increased competition and more money in the pockets of fish harvesters,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “At worst, it would keep local buyers honest.”
Cleary made the proposal in a letter this week to Steve Crocker, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods. FISH-NL also proposes that restrictions be lifted on local fish buyers to permit them to buy all species.
FISH-NL’s proposal was made following an intensive, province-wide consultation with thousands of fish harvesters, whose support for out-of-province buyers is unanimous.
“Fish harvesters and fish harvesters alone drive the agenda of FISH0NL,” said Cleary, “and harvesters across the province have been unanimous is saying that outside buyers should be allowed in.”
FISH-NL is attempting to break harvesters away from the FFAW into their own separate union, and the consultation was part of the certification drive. The FFAW has failed to raise the issue of outside buyers because of their obvious conflict of interest in representing both harvesters and plant workers under the one umbrella.
“With the decline of crab and shrimp and the growing reliance on resurging ground fish, it’s critical that harvesters be paid the highest possible price for their catch,” said Cleary. “That can only happen if the door is open to outside buyers.”