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UFAWU-Unifor Salmon Survey Finds Harvesters Devastated by Closures

PRINCE RUPERT, Oct 5, 2021 — A recent UFAWU-Unifor online survey for commercial salmon harvesters has found that fishers and their families have been financially devastated by the abrupt closure of many B.C. salmon fisheries.

The survey, which was open to both members and non-members of UFAWU-Unifor, found that of the many impacts of the salmon closures, a severe and unexpected loss of income has been the biggest blow.

“[The closures] have financially impacted me, and my family has suffered because of it,” one harvester wrote in their survey submission. 

“There is stress and unneeded financial pressure in my life.”

As many harvesters noted, the costs associated with fishing still exist, despite the closures. This means that harvesters are still on the hook for moorage and other fees associated with the industry.

However, one of the greatest concerns among harvesters is a lack of employment insurance due to the inability to fish.

“During the winter I collect EI but with no fishing how will I provide for my family?” another harvester asked in their survey submission.

“Being in the fishing industry my whole life I have no experience in any other fields.”

With so much time and money invested into the commercial fishing industry, harvesters have reported little in the way of alternative sources of income. To make things worse, with so many closures, the value of gear and boats has also plummeted — meaning that recouping the cost of investments may be impossible.

“To start with, the salmon fleets need access to maximum employment insurance benefits for the 2021 season,” another harvester wrote in their survey submission when asked about the possibility of a support package.

However, as one submission noted, replacing a lifestyle may be impossible.

“42 years of making a living gone,” wrote the harvester. 

“How do you replace a lifestyle?”

For more information or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson, please contact UFAWU-Unifor Communications Organizer Liam Hill-Allan at communications@ufawu.org.

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