PEI

Maritime Seafood Coalition to lobby over foreign worker rules

Lobster processors and fishermen's associations across the Atlantic region have formed a coalition to lobby the federal government over temporary foreign worker restrictions.

Maritime Seafood Coalition wants fish plants to have same exemption as agricultural industry

The Maritime Seafood Coalition would like fish plants to have the same exemption for temporary foreign workers as the agricultural industry. (CBC)

Lobster processors and fishermen's associations across the Atlantic region have formed a coalition to lobby the federal government over temporary foreign worker program restrictions.              

The Maritime Seafood Coalition would like fish plants to be given the same exemption as the agricultural industry. The group says a recent overhaul singled out seafood from the seasonal agricultural/agrifood workers program.

Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association — one of seven coalition members — says this is the first year temporary foreign workers will be capped at 30 per cent of total staff.

That will drop to 20 per cent next year and 10 per cent in 2017, MacPherson says.

"We're hoping we can get some more flexibility with the federal government on some of these changes so that we're not losing economic opportunity," he said.

"The processing sector is looking at a number of options down the way in terms of more mechanization and other strategies to deal with declining labour sources, but we need a bridge to get us there. And we've got a good sustainable, healthy stock, we don't want to miss opportunity on the harvesting sector because there's bottlenecks at some of the plants."

Last year, some P.E.I. plants put lobster fishermen on quotas because of a lack of staff, and that was with no hiring restrictions.

In 2013, more than 360 foreign workers were employed at Island fish plants.

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