Shrimp Boat Tie Up Over in Newfoundland

July 15, 2009, 9:37 AM EST


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A lengthy tie-up of shrimp boats in Newfoundland and Labrador by FFAW/CAW members is over after agreement was reached on the price of shrimp for the rest of the season.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said fish harvesters fought hard to achieve an average price of 42 cents a pound in negotiations with the shrimp processors. The parties reached this agreement on Friday, July 10, along with a parallel agreement with the processors' association and the Newfoundland and Labrador government on a Memorandum of Understanding to fundamentally restructure the province's fishery.

"These were very complex negotiations that included major policy issues as well as price negotiations," McCurdy said. He said the commitment by all parties to fundamentally restructure the marketing of Newfoundland and Labrador seafood products meets a long-standing demand of FFAW/CAW. A marketing working group was one of four working groups established under the M.O.U. to prepare a restructuring blueprint before the end of the year.

McCurdy said the solidarity of fish harvesters and processing plant workers was key to reaching a settlement. FFAW/CAW members have staged a series of protests and sit-ins at various government offices in recent months to raise awareness of the struggles within their industry, including the severe impact of the global recession.

Shrimp harvesters had tied up their boats rather than fish for 37 cents a pound, the price that had been determined by a provincial price-setting panel.

McCurdy said the settlement paved the way for about 1,500 plant workers and a similar number of harvesters to go back to work in the province's shrimp boats and plants.

He said the reason the structural M.O.U. was needed was that the 42 cent shrimp price is "not sustainable for the long term. We have to get more out of the market; that's why we were adamant about fundamentally changing the way we market our fish products."

While the price agreement dealt only with shrimp, the restructuring M.O.U. applies to the entire Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, which has an annual export value of about $1 billion.

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