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2022 shrimp fishery: ‘good demand, low inventories, and higher prices’ (if only there were buyers)

That's the forecast in a report prepared for the province's price-setting panel, which went with it last week, and set the spring price paid to the inshore fleet for northern shrimp at $1.42/lb — 52¢/lb more than the 90¢/lb the buyers had on the table. But the panel also had some advice for the inshore fleet — catch more shrimp in spring.

The 2022 quota for the northern shrimp stock fished by the inshore fleet off southern Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland — known as shrimp fishing area (SFA) 6 — is set at 6,563 tonnes, a 1.1% cut from last year. This year's quota for the shrimp area of the Gulf (area 8) fished by the province's inshore fleet was cut by 19%.



In spring "the shrimp tends to be the best raw material landed during the year."


Only that's easier said than done given price disputes, later and later opening dates, and some processors who wait until after crab season to buy shrimp.


Even today, it's said that processors aren't prepared to buy shrimp from the province's Gulf fleet (fishing zone 4R) at $1.42/lb, although one buyer reportedly offered $1.20/lb this week.


So much for the panel's minimum price.


The 4R fleet refused to fish at this time last year after the panel set the spring shrimp price at $1/lb, and only went to sea after June 23rd when the summer price rose to $1.10/lb (which was still too low).


As for the Area 6 fleet, DFO didn't open their fishery last year until June 7th, and while some boats went fishing then, most didn't untie until July.


Owner-operators say the shrimp fishery traditionally started in May when shrimp yields are at their best, but in recent years processors haven't been interested in buying then, and DFO hasn't released management plans/opening dates until later in the spring.


To quote the panel report: "It is the Panel’s view that an increase in fishing activity during the spring would be desirable and should be encouraged where practical."


What's clear is that if the inshore fleet is ready and raring to go fishing shrimp in May, then DFO has to get its act in gear and release the management plans/opening dates much earlier in the year.


And if there are no buyers for shrimp then, then the door must be opened to outside ones.


Enterprise owners in the inshore fleet expect the best possible price or their product — no less than any other business.



In its written report on the spring shrimp price, the price-setting panel — which relied on a market report prepared by Gemba Seafood Consulting, as well as government statistics, and seafood media reports — said the 2022 shrimp market looks positive.


The reported quoted the Gemba report as predicting "good demand, low inventories, and higher prices."


Canadian cold-water shrimp also continues to have a trade advantage in the markets of the United Kingdom over Russia, Greenland, and the U.S., which have yet to secure trade deals.


UNPREDICTABLE MANAGEMENT

In cutting the shrimp quota in the waters of the Gulf (area 8) fished by the province's inshore fleet by 19%, the minister of Fisheries and Oceans went above the 15% maximum annual decrease outlined in the department's "precautionary approach" fisheries policy.


Just last year DFO went outside its own rulebook to lower the province's 2021 shrimp quota in SFA 6.


Owner-operators lost an estimated 5 million/lbs (2,266 tonnes) of shrimp because DFO limited the quota increase at 15% when the department's own rulebook allowed for a 42.3% jump.


DFO's act is not in gear, but then industry's is not either.


Ryan Cleary

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail sea-nl@outlook.com Please sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.


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