Fisheries Minister undecided on outside buyers; wants them to contact him directly

NL Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker has yet to decide whether to lift restrictions on outside fish buyers, encouraging them to contact him directly.

“I have not yet decided how to proceed with groundfish market development opportunities for 2017, and would welcome any further input you may wish to provide,” Crocker wrote in a Feb. 20th letter to FISH-NL. “In particular, if you are aware of outside buyers who are interested in coming into the province and participating in buying activities on the same basis as NL processors, feel free to encourage them to contact my office.”

 

FISH-NL wrote Crocker on Dec. 23rd to propose 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,” FISH-NL President Ryan Cleary said at the time. “At worst, it would keep local buyers honest.”

FISH-NL also proposed 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-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.

The status of FISH-NL’s application to the Labour Relations Board has been in limbo since Feb. 9 when the Board held a full-day hearing on FISH-NL’s official status. The FFAW's team of lawyers argued that FISH-NL isn’t a legal organization because of technicalities at its founding convention. 

The Board hasn’t said when it will make a decision.