The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on the federal government to extend employment insurance (EI) benefits for west coast fish harvesters impacted by severe ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
FISH-NL issued a release calling for the compensation on Tuesday, April 23.
"Some harvesters and their familieis are having a hard time of it. The heavy ice means they can't go fishing, and the wolf is beating at the door," said Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.
Per FISH-NL, the EI benefits of some harvesters ran out two weeks ago, with no relief from the sever ice conditions in sight, keeping boats tied to the wharf.
The conditions have forced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to delay the start of the lobster fishery in the Gulf, while many harvesters have not been able to set their crab gear.
"Everyone needs fishermen to keep the industry moving," said Boyd Lavers, a fishermen from Port Saunders and the captain of FISH-NL's over-40 feet. "But if the fishermen can't get on the water there must be help for them, too. We have to make sure harvesters stick around for when the fishery is ready to start."