Proposal Calls on Federal Government to Support South Coast Fish Harvesters

The  FFAW-Unifor has submitted an enterprise retirement-income support proposal to the federal government on behalf of harvesters on the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Harvesters in the area are facing severe economic challenges as a result of an unprecedented decline of fish resources. The proposal would improve incomes by reducing the number of enterprises through a voluntary license retirement program.

“Harvesters in 3Ps are facing a crisis through no fault of their own,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “A license retirement program is the best opportunity to improve incomes in the area and provide a viable livelihood for the remaining enterprises.”

The enterprise retirement program will only apply to Placentia Bay harvesters, where there are approximately 300 enterprises. Harvesters in both the inshore (<40’) fleet and the supplementary (40’ to 65’) are able to participate. The program will take at least three years to complete.

The proposal was submitted to the federal government in mid-October. The program would require financial support from both the provincial and federal government. The provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods has already expressed support for the proposal.

“The success of the lobster sustainability program on the west and south coasts in 2014 proves that this type of program can dramatically improve incomes for harvesters and build a more economically viable fishery in the area,” continued Sullivan. “While there are no quick fixes to the environmental shift happening in 3Ps, both levels of government must swiftly address the significant financial challenges harvesters are facing and lay the groundwork for a viable fishery in the future.”

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