Fish harvesters raise industry concerns at Fish-NL meeting
Fishing quotas was just one of the concerns discussed during a Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) meeting held in Marystown Nov. 29.
Harvesters from around the Burin Peninsula had an opportunity to raise their concerns about the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union during a series of meetings held in the region last week.
Additional meetings were held in Bay L’Argent, Fortune, Lawn and Petite Forte.
Wayne Meade, who fishes out of Grand Bank, was one of the attendees at last weeks meeting in Marystown.
“I fished scallop on St. Pierre bank for a number of years and in 2006 they (FFAW) give away the middle (scallop) bed and the southern bed to the big offshore companies,” he said. “I held a license for that area for the last 25 years and overnight I had it took from (me), so there’s nothing fair about that.”
Meade said following that he removed the scallop gear from his vessel.
“I went at the hook and line fishery for a couple of years because we had a 10 per cent by catch of halibut, (then) in 2008 they decided to take the by catch of halibut from us,” he said.
Meade he it is time for a change in representation.
“The FFAW (have) been in there too long and they’re dishonest to the fisherman, they’ve done everything to bring us down, done everything to the 3PS fisherman to bring’em down — all Newfoundland not only 3PS,” he noted.
Meade added that he feels the FFAW are not representing the fisherman/
“They’re only there to benefit their own selves, they’re not there to help the fisherman at all,” he said.
Ryan Cleary, president of FISHNL said the harvesters at the Marystown meeting are not alone in their feelings.
“We’ve heard these concerns here for a while,” he said. “The people in Garnish, for example, have been particularly vocal in terms of the lobster fishery and buddying-up.”
Cleary said other concerns FISH-NL is hearing in their travels has to do with the age of the people in the fishery.
“It’s so hard for people to get into the fishery,” he said. “It’s to hard for young people to get in and we’ve got an aging work force.”
Cleary said although that is controlled by the fish harvesters certification board, the union has to fight for the people they represent.
“The union has a responsibility when something is not working as a representative of fish harvesters to stand up, be counted and to change things so it does work,” he said.
Cleary noted harvesters have a lack of faith in the FFAW.
“They don’t trust their union, they’re not consulted by their union (and) the interests of fish harvesters are not put first and all the way down the list,” he said.
At the start of each meetings Cleary asked those in attendance if they trust their union.
“I can read peoples faces,” he said. “You can tell that they don’t, there’s a reason there is so much unrest in the fishery.”
This year was a first for the Annual Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade in Marystown.
A quiet zone was designated along this year’s route. The zone was included to allow children who may be sensitive to loud noises an opportunity to enjoy the parade without worry.
Kinsmen Dan Walsh, parade chairperson, explained he had seen a quiet zone used during a Santa Claus Parade that he watched on TV.
“I thought it would be a great idea to have it here,” he said.
Walsh said that he spoke to several parents of autistic children who were delighted with the idea of the quiet zone.
“There are kids who are scared (of) sirens and loud noises,” he added.
The area will run along a section of Ville Marie Drive
“We’re going to try it this year,” said Walsh. “We’re going to have a section from the Catholic church down to the overpass (with) no sirens, no noise, no nothing.”
Walsh said that he is even going to ask the sea cadets to refrain from playing their drums in that area.
Members of the Burin Peninsula Autism Family Support Group are applauding the move by parade organizers.
“We were obviously happy with (the) inclusion of the zone itself,” said Colin Hodder, the group’s president.
“For some people with ASD, the extra noise and lights could be overwhelming or a hindrance to (them) enjoying the parade.”
He added, “Anything that helps individuals on the spectrum, and their families, participate in and enjoy being part of their communities is appreciated.”
Hodder explained that while the group did not request the zone be added, he is happy it has been.
“We were obviously delighted by this,” he said. “I think the fact that they thought to include this during planning shows how far autism awareness has come, and how willing local communities are to support individuals on the spectrum.”
The quiet zone will be open to anyone with children who are sensitive to loud noises.
Ryan Cleary was in Marystown last week for a FISH-NL meeting