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Divide and conquer has always been the FFAW model

“Adjacency” is a word that can bring about anxiety in a room full of fishermen/women like few other industry terms can.

This unnecessary fear essentially stems from the policies forced upon them by Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) politicians speaking from both sides of their mouths, depending on which group they might be feeding bait to at that particular moment.

There has been an unnecessary divide created that has helped the fishermen’s union tighten the stranglehold on members for so many years — divide then conquer.

It’s been the primary tactic of many oppressive empires over time, and has been implemented with precision by the FFAW in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We know the principle of adjacency recognizes the right of local populations to harvest and use nearby fish resources for their own needs. It intertwines with the principle of abstention, which prioritizes and grants these populations the first right of refusal, as such, to claim all quotas that can possibly be utilized by local interests before any excess capacity is offered to outsiders.

With these fundamentals in mind, all fish stocks around Newfoundland and Labrador must first be given to fishermen and women from Newfoundland and Labrador before any fish is given to foreign countries or large fish-harvesting companies in Quebec or the Maritimes.

Any overcapacity that may not be sustainably caught by current licence holders in this province could then, and only then, be bartered for additional rights in other provinces or countries.

That is what FISH-NL will fight for: Newfoundland and Labrador fishers first, and only fishers.

We have lost a massive amount of shrimp to non-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore companies and foreign trawlers. We all know most of these large offshore companies are, most likely, controlled by foreigners and, therefore, should be first to exit the fishery.

DFO increased shrimp quotas this year in areas further north along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador where the large offshore vessels have access to licences and quotas.

Why didn’t they allow boats from this province to move north with the shrimp?

There was a recent meeting held by the FFAW in Plum Point where we believe the union implied Gulf shrimp fishermen — if they fought for adjacency — they, along with Avalon area fishers, could lose their shrimp to the northeast coast fleet.

In our opinion, this was a bold and direct attempt to pit northern Gulf/southern shrimp fishers against northeast coast fishers, fixed-gear fishermen against otter-trawl fishers and small open-boat licence holders against the long-liner fleets.

Divide and conquer has always been the model of the FFAW.

The union has been holding meetings across the province of late and you can be sure they are filling the heads of east, Avalon, south and Labrador coast fishers with the same sort of rhetoric by inciting unrest against one another.

If shrimp fishers of the Gulf don’t fight for adjacency, we strongly believe they will lose shrimp quotas to Quebec and New Brunswick fleets in the very near future.

Remember, the FFAW doesn’t have the power to protect you anymore because they are in bed with DFO.

We don’t think Ottawa is going to take shrimp from Quebec first; Newfoundland and Labrador has always been their obvious No. 1 target.

Alternatively, if we fight for adjacency you will have a chance to save your shrimp. Please, fisher people, don’t trust the FFAW — they are sleeping with the enemy.

We believe the FFAW is getting more money from the Canadian government than they are getting from us.

DFO is going to listen to Parliament when it comes to quota sharing, the FFAW union will listen to DFO and history will indeed repeat itself if we don’t fight for these principles.

Newfoundland and Labrador fishers will work it out among ourselves after we take control of our deserved fish stocks.

If the rest of the world wants our fish, then they will just have to visit their local supermarket or pub, spend their hard-earned money and buy a feed of cod like everybody else.


Oswan and Darrell Tucker, Newfoundland and Labrador less-than-100-feet fish harvesters, write from Reef's Harbour.

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