Regardless of which amount the province’s price-setting panel chooses to pay the inshore fleet to start the 2022 snow crab season — $7.60/lb or $9.05/lb — the price will still be either $2.95/lb or $4.40/lb below Nova Scotia. From where I stand, our inshore fleet should not fish for less than $11.50/lb. At some point the line in the sand must be drawn.
Canada's largest snow crab fishery off Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to start in the coming weeks, with quota increases expected. The 2021 total allowable catch (TAC) was 38,186 tonnes, a 29% increase from 2020, and the first quota increase in more than a decade.
Undercurrent News confirmed Monday that the snow crab season in the small fishing zone of 4X in the southern Gulf runs from Nov. 1, 2021-March 31st, 2022, and harvesters there were most recently paid $12/lb for their catch.
SEA-NL reported the news last week in this post: Cape Breton fisherman paid $12/lb for snow crab to start season, almost double ASP's 1st offer in NL
Robert Hache, director-general of the Association Des Crabiers Acadiens, a trade group representing 115 snow crab fishermen in the southern Gulf, told Undercurrent the snow crab price began at $10/lb, but rose quickly.
He confirmed the $12/lb price "roughly matched what harvesters received in the southern Gulf at the end of the 2021 season."
Again, the highest price this province’s inshore fleet will be paid to start the 2022 season is $9.05/lb.
The price-setting panel is scheduled to meet today to hear a motion by the Association of Seafood Producers to remove Earle McCurdy from the panel, with another hearing scheduled for Wednesday (March 30) on the snow crab price.
Hache said the price difference between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia has previously been no more than 25¢/lb-50¢/lb, “unlike the much more dramatic price differences of recent times.”
HIGHER COSTS IN NOVA SCOTIA
The up to 50¢/lb price difference between here and the mainland has been explained by the fact that fishermen in Nova Scotia must pay their own workers' comp/EI premiums, say 25¢/lb, plus another say 25¢/lb a pound to cover transportation costs to ship crab from Newfoundland and Labrador to market.
Robert Keenan, the FFAW's secretary-treasurer, explains it here.
Imagine the embarrassment if the price-setting panel goes with the processors' offer of $7.60/lb — and our inshore fleet finds itself $4.40/lb behind?
What a joke the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery would be.
Higher fish prices across the Gulf aren’t negotiated by unions with labour monopolies over the entire industry, so much as the highest price at the wharf.
I do not write this to instigate, but to highlight the fact the panel system of fish pricing does not work in terms of achieving a fair market price for the inshore fleet.
A fair price, that’s what this is about. Not greed, not much-wants-more, but fairness to the inshore fleet that floats so much of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
To repeat the Big Reset, the price-setting system is "anti-competitive," with the setting of fish prices excluded from the federal Competition Act.
Competition leads to better prices, and an anti-completive system leads to poor prices.
If the panel goes with $9.05/lb for snow crab, and the mainland price stays high as the fishery gets into full swing, the FFAW would have to use its one and only price appeal sooner rather than later.
And if the final snow crab price to our owner-operators for 2022 is locked in too early in the season — and the market price continues to rise like it did last year with no opportunity for the inshore fleet to achieve a fair market price — then unrest should be expected.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.