Canada crabbers harmed by ice delays

Published on
April 21, 2017

A labor union representing fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador is asking the Canadian government for extended employment insurance funds for both crab vessels and plant works affected by heavy ice conditions.

“The persistent ice in some areas of the province will cause hardship for many families, and the government must step up to assist these people as conditions are expected to persist for the next several weeks,” FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan said.

While the crab season is open in areas 3K, 3L and 2J (the eastern and western coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador) shore, hundreds of boats remain unable to fish due to ice, according to FFAW-Unifor. In addition, Area 3D (the northeast coast of Newfoundland) has a delayed opening. 

“It’s a wider area [of ice] than usual. Very few people have gotten to do harvesting so far this year because of the ice conditions,” Sullivan told SeafoodSource. 

In addition, the long-range forecast is calling for northeast winds, causing ice to remain until strong offshore winds push it back out. 

“This could take several weeks to resolve,” FFAW-Unifor said in a statement.

In 2007, the federal government set aside CAD 7.9 million (USD 5.9 million, EUR 5.5 million) for a special ice compensation program in areas affected by the heavy ice conditions that spring. FFAW-Unifor does not know how much – if any – compensation will be provided this season.

For many workers, E.I. benefits run out next week, “which will leave families without any income for the foreseeable future, since ice is expected to be a problem until at least mid-May,” FFAW-Unifor said. 

The provincial government also requested the unemployment insurance extension in a letter to Service Canada. 

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