While the MFU was formed in Bay Ste Anne, New Brunswick in 1977, Local 6, on Cape Breton Island, was formed in 1979. From then until now our course has meant the weathering of many storms created by disputes over fisheries management and who the major stakeholders will be in the fisheries of the future.
To date, we have survived to see the relative calm, however short lived, on the other side. Most times we come through battered and a bit worse for wear but occasionally we make it through unscathed.With the passage of time inshore fishermen are facing increased pressure to leave the fisheries, be it through new policy decisions, the burden of additional fees, support of devastating changes in Employment Insurance criteria and Canada Pension contributions or the refusal to listen and act on fishermen's recommendation's within the industry.
Unfortunately, some of these tactics are achieving what they were designed for, to diminish the numbers of independent inshore fishermen.
The Maritime Fishermen's Union will endeavour to continue fighting for the rights of not only our members, but for all fishermen, through our involvement as participants of various boards and committees within the industry and continuing to speak out against the injustices thrown our way. We shall also remain optimistic in our push to be recognized as key players and advisors in and for the fishing industry.
The following are a few of the issues that the MFU has been involved in over the past number of years. Many of these and other issues are still being fought in different ways throughout the Maritimes. Hopefully, the time will come when the present day decision makers will recognize that the future of the east coast fishery should be directed mainly by input from the people who have the most practical knowledge, the most concern and the most to lose - who better than the fishermen themselves!
Local 6 has been a primary front line supporter and lobbyist for the now, more than ever, critical issue of dues legislation for fishermen in the province of Nova Scotia.
We have representation covering lobster/groundfish/ mackerel/ herring/ tuna/ scallops/ grey seals and developing species.
We have a member on the Canada Council of Professional Fish Harvesters as well as representatives on the Lobster Advisory Council.
We have been and are currently working on environmental issues such as the East Scotia Shelf Integrated Management (ESSIM) and a Clean Oceans initiative and are actively engaged in finding a solution to the current lobster crisis by participating in think tanks, meetings with government and supporting the work of the Lobster Council of Canada.
Local 6 is working hard on the newly created tags distribution issue and the ongoing owner operator struggle, at the same time paying close attention to certification and market changes affecting our industry.
We are a supporter of, and a collaborator with, the Scotia Fundy Professional Fishermen’s Registration and Training Association (SFPFR&TA) which has run very successful and affordable training programs for fishermen as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) which has gathered very useful information about lobster through one of its newer initiatives, the Lobster Node program.
Local 6 is also staying informed on new developments affecting our industry such as the Maritime Link and Transport Canada changes, along with changes to incorporation rules for fish harvesters.
The MFU has and continues to maintain a great focus on particular topics. Some of these topics are listed below, for detailed information click on topic of interest.
Education and knowledge play an important role in our industry; to fishermen, scientists, politicians and the public at large. We are constantly doing our utmost to ensure that this takes place in all these areas.
We will continue to work hard on all the issues and with the help of our membership and a united front we hope to achieve the results that will best serve the sustainability of the fishery, it's fishermen and coastal communities in and around Cape Breton Island.