The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) clewed up a series of 20 outreach meetings this week that began in November and went around the province.
Ryan Cleary, president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL), stated in a news release Friday that the most common issue during the meetings is that the FFAW-Unifor is no longer the voice of inshore harvesters.
“That sentiment was expressed at every single meeting — without exception — and with union representatives front and centre in the room,” Cleary stated. “The FFAW-Unifor no longer speaks for most harvesters, and that message should be loud, clear and obvious to the entire fishing industry, including federal Minister Dominic LeBlanc.”
Keith Sullivan, president of FFAW-Unifor, however, said Cleary’s statements are not representative of what was actually discussed at the meetings, nor is it reflective of the opinions of the vast majority of fish harvesters in the province.
“Ryan Cleary’s statements are simply another desperate attempt to invent lies in order to fit his narrative,” Sullivan said in a statement.
“The fact is FFAW-Unifor is the only official representative of the 10,000 inshore fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador. FISH-NL, on the other hand, is a fledgling organization whose limited support has significantly diminished. What has become evident since FISH-NL began its campaign to raid FFAW is that when they are unable to provide an informed commentary on relevant fisheries issues, they resort to baseless attacks on FFAW. These attacks and misrepresentations from FISH-NL do nothing to advance the cause of fish harvesters in this province.”
FISH-NL estimated the turnout for all meetings at just under 520 harvesters, which its release said is low considering the total number of harvesters in the province is estimated at between 4,500 and 10,200. The province’s Labour Relations Board is still working to confirm the numbers, FISH-NL said.