Cullen to ‘take a run’ at Canfisco fishing licences

Shoreworkers everywhere in the area are scrambling to figure out how to earn income

With Canfisco’s announced closure of approximately 500 salmon canning positions in Prince Rupert at its Oceanside plant, shoreworkers everywhere in the area are scrambling to figure out how to earn income.

“Shoreworkers are in dire need for some help with employment. Prince Rupert needs to come together once again to help our community in these dark times,” the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union (UFAWU) stated in a release late last week.

Employers looking for help from these shoreworkers from anywhere between “one hour to full-time” are asked to call 250-624-6048.

The release further outlined the decimated return on both the sockeye salmon and pink salmon – both of which were expected to bring in 1.1 million and seven million fish respectively this year.

“This year’s catch was only 10,000 sockeye and no pink salmon,” said UFAWU.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen was on his way to Paris this week for the COP21 Paris International Climate Conference, but before he left, he mentioned a plan of action to help the Rupert workers try and regain gainful employment canning salmon.

“I want to take a run at these fish licences. I don’t believe it’s right – we’re issuing licences to catch fish with no conditions at all and those fish are now being moved off to China and everywhere else for processing,” said Cullen last week.

“We’re going to spend some time with our new fisheries minister (the Hon. Hunter Tootoo) and our [NDP] fish critic, Fin Donnelly, who’s been on this as well, to see what we can do about the [Canfisco owner] Pattison Group’s licences.”

The MP said that adjacency policies used to be in place in the B.C. logging industry to have lumber processed where its chopped, and is now looking to implement similar policies in Prince Rupert with salmon processing, but the B.C. and federal governments have neglected the west coast fishing industry.

“There’s a number of different vehicles [we can take]. One is through the competition board, another is just right through DFO (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) and bringing in the idea of adjacency … What are the legal and economic options available to us, because this is a disaster,” said Cullen.

For those affected, more information can be found by emailing ufawupr@citywest.ca.