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Striking crab fishers vow to resume protests at Newfoundland and Labrador legislature

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The man who led a fish harvesters protest that shut down the Newfoundland and Labrador government last month says there is another demonstration planned for Monday.

John Efford says he’s expecting a large number of fishers, who are refusing to fish for crab this year, to gather once again at the provincial legislature.

Efford says processing companies are trying to undermine solidarity among striking harvesters by phoning them individually to entice them to fish.

Harvesters have been refusing to fish this year after a government-appointed panel used a formula proposed by seafood processors to set this year’s starting price for crab at $2.60 a pound.

The union representing inshore fishers says it rejected an offer Thursday from the Association of Seafood Producers to pay fishers $3 per pound for the first three weeks of fishing, and then return to a price set by its formula.

Efford says Monday’s protest will be a continuation of the demonstrations outside the legislature he led last month, which demanded more free market conditions in the fishery, and forced government officials to delay their delivery of the province’s annual budget.

“If we don’t do it now, we won’t have enough (fish harvesters) left next year, there are going to be bankruptcies,” Efford says about continuing the demonstrations. “The endgame is corporate control, and this is how they get the corporate control: they’re going to break us, they’re going to ruin us, they’re going to bankrupt us, and they’re going to completely take us over.”

The Association of Seafood Producers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, harvesters refused to fish crab for the first six weeks of the season after opening prices were set at $2.20 per pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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