The board of directors of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association (1688 PLFA) has asked the safety committee to pursue the objective of ensuring that the Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia (FSANS) ceases to mislead lobster and other fishermen in Nova Scotia into believing that membership in FSANS is mandatory.
“We are tired of trade associations and government agencies preying on the gullibility of hard-working fishermen,” said 1688 PLFA founding board member Stephen Goreham.
The association maintains that the FSANS has been consistently misleading fish harvesters in Nova Scotia that membership in their association was mandatory. More than 130 members had sent the association letters of resignation within the last year, but continued to have to pay dues of $50 to $200.
The 1688 PLFA safety committee members Sandy Forbes and Ivan MacDonald had both vigorously contested the right for FSANS to force membership and made an appeal to the Registry of Joint Stocks seeking further clarification, since the FSANS bylaws state in section 6(b) that membership shall cease, “if the member resigns by written notice to the Society (FSANS).”
The 1688 PLFA says the FSANS had considered making changes to its bylaws at its March annual meeting but the Registry of Joint Stocks said its office would not permit bylaws of any society to require mandatory membership.
Accordingly the FSANS said any proposed revisions to sections of the bylaw in question would not be considered at the annual general meeting.
The forced membership issue is just the tip of the iceberg, according to MacDonald, who has been researching the issue for several years. “The time has come to look at the whole WCB program, which has a $700 million unfunded liability and is just a powder keg waiting to explode,” he said.
MacDonald said that at the AGM, in the media and directly to members, the FSANS should state the membership in the association is not mandatory and never will be.
Definitive language on this issue, it has been said, has not been forthcoming.
“Of course we are all concerned with safety on our boats and in our plants,” added Goreham. “That is not what is at issue here. The board and members of FSANS – and the large processors who they represent - need to be put on notice that they will no longer be able to run roughshod over fishermen and small business people in Nova Scotia.”