The president of the province's fisheries union says Ottawa should provide compensation for the late start to the fishing season caused by ice along the island's northeast coast.

Earle McCurdy, of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, said the heavy ice along the coast has kept fishermen in port.

"It's really an emergency situation for a number of families because they've had no income since the middle of April, and really, the time for monitoring is over, the time for action is now," McCurdy said.

"There's harvesters and some plant workers in a similar situation, where an act of nature is preventing them from making a living, and really it's time for the government to step in," he said. 

McCurdy said government should respond to the situation as they would do for any other naturally-occurring crisis that forces people into a hardship.

"It's not unusual when there's some natural phenomenon occurs that causes hardship for people for the government to step in and help, whether that's an ice storm, a flood, a hurricane, a tornado," said McCurdy.

"When those kinds of things happen that leave people high and dry, they don't say, 'Well, sucks to be you, you're on your own,' they say, 'Well look, in a situation like that, no fault of yours, we'll step in to help.'"

McCurdy also said the federal government has previously provided compensation packages through the EI system when ice conditions prevented fishing.