For Immediate Release/3 April 2020 – The Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) says it and its members understand that this is an extremely stressful and uncertain time for everyone, but everyone agrees on one thing: safety is first.
The Association, representing processors in the province, says concerns about the potential impacts of COVID-19 on our people, communities and province come first.
“The safety of people working in the sector is of first importance and will continue to be our main focus as we navigate this situation,” said Derek Butler, head of ASP.
“The COVID-19 situation is rapidly changing and so too are the decisions that the sector must make,“ says Butler.
The FFAW requested that the crab season be delayed until at least April 20, and Butler says the sector is focused in the meantime on ensuring the necessary preventative measures and protocols are in place to keep employees and communities safe and to be ready for a season.
“Processors have been collaborating across the industry – not just in Newfoundland and Labrador, but across Canada – to share best practices and to establish an industry-wide approach to keep people safe,” says Butler.
“Several operators have been actively implementing Emergency Response Plans and have put in place preventative measures and rigorous protocols in response to COVID-19. The sector has also been working closely with Occupational Health and Safety and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer to ensure the measures that are being taken meet the most stringent health and safety practices. In fact, plans for several processing companies have been duly approved,” says Butler. “We are working towards having an approved industry-wide plan prior to any start of the season.”
“We all need to be working together – the processors, the harvesters, the union and governments – to ensure we are all doing everything possible to keep people safe,” says Butler. “And as a sector we are regularly assessing and re-evaluating our processes and activities to ensure safety is paramount and we are following the advice from the proper health authorities and government officials. We will continue to take all the necessary precautions to minimize the risk to workers while considering the essential nature of our sector to sustainable food production.”