April 27, 1995
In an impressive show of unity, representatives of more than 25,000 Canadian fishermen have created their first national organization. There were no dissenting voices as about a hundred delegates representing 25 fishermen’s associations formed the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters (CCPFH). The constitutional assembly took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
The CCPFH will act as a national voice for fish harvesters in their dealings with government and other groups in the industry. It will be a vehicle to assist fishermen to improve their professional skills and status. Delegates approved a constitution and a draft strategic plan for the CCPFH. The new executive structure reflects this diverse industry. It gives two representatives to British Columbia, Quebec, Central Canada of the Atlantic Provinces, and two to the aboriginal.
The tone of the convention was very optimistic. Delegates overcame many traditional divisions. One important development during the weekend was support from Aboriginal fishermen. The Native Brotherhood of British Columbia take part in the convention and pledged cooperation.
"All Canadian fisheries are facing a great deal of pressure. We know that the only way for us to promote our interests, and the interests of our communities is by working together," said François Poulin, president of the new organization.
A major theme was the contribution of $6.5 billion by the fishery to Canadian economy. The Canadian fishery in 1990, created more than 200,000 full time equivalent jobs. The Atlantic fishery made a net contribution of $425 million to government coffers, that is after covering its costs. This contradicts the
claim by the fish processors` lobby who greatly angered the fishermen by claiming that the Atlantic fishery is a net drain on Canada`s economy. Similarly, the Pacific fishery produces a billion dollars in landed value annually.
"This is an unbelievable breakthrough for fishermen", say Gastien Godin, Executive Director of the Association des Pêcheurs Professionnels Acadiens (APPA). We made a lot more progress on our constitution in Charlottetown than the politicians did on theirs when they were here a few years ago. It gives us a chance to take real action together for the first time".
According to Earle McCurdy, President of the Fish Food & Allied Workers (FFAW). "This is a red letter day for fishermen. With all the difficult issues confronting fishermen, it`s essential for fishermen’s organizations to come together through our own national institution."
"This is only the beginning", say Dennis Brown, Secretary Treasury of the United Fishermen & Allied Workers Union (UFAWU). We’ll immediately follow up the founding convention with a series of regional meetings to make sure we’ve got things right based on local input and needs".
Delegates at the convention represented 90% of organized fish harvesters. "The Council will soon contact fish harvester organizations inviting them to join", according to Daniel Bernier, Executive Director of the organization.
For more information contact:
Daniel Bernier - (613) 566-7031
Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters
First Directors of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters
François Poulin, Chair, APPQ (Québec)
Earle McCurdy, FFAW (Newfoundland)
Desmond McGrath, FFAW (Newfoundland)
Dennis Brown, UFAWU (British Columbia)
Gastien Godin, APPA (Nouveau-Brunswick)
Mike Belliveau, MFU (Maritime)
Gary Dedrick, EFF (Maritime)
Brian Giroux, SFMGFA (Nova Scotia)
Rory McLellan, PEIFA (Prince Edward Island)
You can see the media release in its original format here.