Constant attempts to destroy livelihoods of Newfoundland and Labrador offshore harvesters by FFAW Executive is unacceptable

FFAW Executive proposal asks DFO for 100% reduction to local offshore harvesters’ allocation, while suggesting a 40% cut for French harvesters.

(January 14, 2020 – St. John’s, NL) – Following a concerning science update from DFO on south coast cod last week, instead of focusing on a stable and reasonable path forward for the industry, the FFAW Executive continues to aggressively lobby government to destroy the livelihoods of its own members.

Approximately 300 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians depend on the offshore fishery’s 12% quota share for 3Ps cod. Those individuals pay hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the FFAW in union dues.

While the FFAW’s Executive’s proposal at yesterday’s Groundfish Advisory Council meeting in St. John’s recommends a 20% reduction in local inshore harvesters allocation and a 40% reduction for French harvesters, it calls for a 100% reduction for local offshore harvesters. This is clearly an unbalanced proposal, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and placing the burden of recovery solely on the offshore harvesters whose allocation is only 12%.

The FFAW Executive’s position is especially hypocritical on the heels of its statements just last month criticizing FISHNL for its ‘efforts to divide the industry’ and ‘spreading misinformation’. FFAW President, Keith Sullivan, recently declared, ‘divisiveness of pitting skippers against crew, or one inshore fleet against another, has no place in our union’.

It is unfortunate that the FFAW executive has a different standard when it comes to pitting inshore harvesters against offshore harvesters. Like inshore harvesters, offshore harvesters are hardworking Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Oftentimes these inshore and offshore harvesters are family, neighbours and friends. These offshore harvesters do not deserve to face constant attempts to have their livelihoods stripped away.

“The fishery is a globally competitive industry. In other regions, we are able to work with fellow harvesters and processors on outcomes that benefit all industry participants,” explained Kris Vascotto, Executive Director of the Atlantic Groundfish Council. “Unfortunately, there is zero receptivity from the FFAW Executive to collaborate to create a stronger, more sustainable fishery. We continue to believe that the collaborative approach that is working in other parts of Atlantic Canada is needed within the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The FFAW Executive constantly tries to recast the facts of the fishery in a way that is not only misleading but also disrespectful to offshore harvesters. For example:

  • In 1997 after the cod fishery was re-opened following the 3Ps cod moratorium, the offshore sector did not feel the struggling stock was healthy enough to support a fishery at the level being proposed. Based on that concern, the offshore made the voluntary decision not to catch its quota with the hope this effort would offset pressure being placed on the stock. It’s important to note that the offshore sector was allocated its quota by the Department but chose not to fish it. Even over 20 years ago, the offshore sector was putting concern for stock health and its commitment to ensuring a sustainable fishery for future generations above short-term financial gains.
  • DFO-Science has verified the offshore winter fishery does not interfere with the 3Ps cod spawning period (see page 4). Ironically, the FFAW Executive refuses to acknowledge the DFO-Science proven observation that the inshore sector is actively harvesting 3Ps cod during its peak spawning period in late May and early June.

Vascotto added, “The Atlantic Groundfish Council and its members have always been committed to a sustainable fishery to support sustainable communities. We are unwavering in this commitment and will continue to fight for this into the future”.

The Council continues to offer to work together on the common problem and calls upon the FFAW Executive to focus on collaboration and solutions to the problems, rather than continuing their efforts to divide the industry at the expense of all members.


Media Contact:
Sarah Fleming, Director of Communications
[email protected]

About the Atlantic Groundfish Council
The Atlantic Groundfish Council (formerly GEAC) is a non-profit industry association representing year-round groundfish harvesters in Atlantic Canada. Its members employ thousands of people, in mostly year-round jobs, in rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada. The Council contributes to research that will improve the sustainability and management of groundfish fisheries by actively supporting science, sustainability certifications and responsible management.