FISH-NL calls on Ottawa for ice compensation for west coast harvesters


The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on Ottawa to extend EI benefits for fish harvesters on Newfoundland’s west coast impacted by severe ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


A photograph taken Tuesday, April 23rd, from the highlands on the south side of Bay St. George. 

“Some harvesters and their families are having a hard time of it. The heavy ice means they can’t go fishing, and the wolf is beating at their door,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, in calling for ice compensation in the form of an EI extension.

The EI benefits of some harvesters ran out two weeks ago, with no let up in sight of the severe ice conditions that are keeping fishing boats tied to the wharf. The ice conditions have forced DFO to delay the lobster fishery in the Gulf, and many harvesters haven’t been able to set their crab gear.

“Everyone needs fishermen to keep the industry moving,” says Boyd Lavers, a fishermen from Port Saunders and Captain of FISH-NL’s Over 40 fleet. “But if the harvesters can’t move their boats there has to be help for them, too. We have to make sure the fishermen stick around for when the fishery is ready to start.”