About two dozen crab fishermen from all over Newfoundland and Labrador had an emotional meeting with their union leader Tuesday morning in St. John's.

The harvesters want the Fish Food and Allied Workers' union to help free them from provincial rules that state they can only sell their catch to buyers in this province.


Fishermen dumped crab worth $85,000 into the water near a processing plant in Hickman's Harbour on Monday. (CBC )

"We want the right to deliver our product to whoever we feel we can deliver it to, to get the best price," said fisherman Glen Winslow.

The harvesters are upset because they're getting lower prices for their crab in this province, compared to what has been offered by processors in Nova Scotia.

The restriction to only sell catches locally is meant to protect local fish plant workers, who are also represented by the FFAW.

Frustration boiled over on Monday when about 200 fishermen blocked workers at a plant in Hickman's Harbour. They then entered the plant, removed about $85,000 worth of crab, and dumped it into the ocean.

Leader supports protesters

FFAW president Earle McCurdy stopped short of condemning the actions in Hickman's Harbour. He said between lower crab quotas and slim hope for better prices, fishermen are disappointed and frustrated.

"When you do things like the buyers did this winter, of building up expectations, building up expectations, then making an absolutely insulting offer, well, people get mad about that," said McCurdy.

"I support their protest and what happened there happened."

Provincial officials said the government is open to alternatives to the current rules, but it will stand by this season's processing requirements. 

Meanwhile, another anticipated protest by crab fishermen did not happen on Tuesday.

Workers at Allen's Fisheries crab plant in Benoit's Cove said they were told protesters could show up by noon at their facility, but they said business went on as usual.