Head of the Canadian Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union, Keith Sullivan announced on Thursday he will be stepping down, just one year into a three-year term as president.

Sullivan, one of the most well-known figures in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing sector, has been head of the 15,00 strong union since 2014, succeeding Earle McCurdy, who served as president for 21 years.

He leaves during one of the most profitable eras in the history of the province's fishing industry, with record landings of more than US$745 million (€721 million) in 2021 and 2022.

"It's a personal choice," said Sullivan who has been at the center of a number of major labor and pricing disputes.

Sullivan said he made the decision recently following a period of reflection and he was not being enticed away by another opportunity.

By the end of the day, the FFAW’s executive board had released a statement unanimously endorsing the union’s Industrial Director, Greg Pretty to take over.

Nominations open Dec. 15 and close Dec. 29, and the election will be held at a joint council meeting on Jan. 5. Because Sullivan is leaving before the end of his term, only the roughly 70 members of the union's inshore and industrial retail offshore councils will vote.

The union’s next general election takes place in 2024, and any FFAW member in good standing is eligible to be nominated for president.

Since the union represents sectors other than the inshore fishery, the leader could come from the offshore fishery, seafood processing, brewing or offshore oil industry membership.

Departing president Sullivan worked on the deck of his father's boat in order to finance his university education, joined the union 18 years ago and has been president for the past eight years.

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