The province’s fish price-setting panel — which last week set $7.60/lb as the price paid to the inshore fleet for snow crab to start the 2022 season — has issued a summary report on its decision, saying a more detailed report will be issued “in the coming days.”
Crab pots of Petty Harbour, just outside St. John's.
Personally, I can’t wait to pick up the report to see how the panel addresses accusations that the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) "manipulated" the system to lock in at the lower snow crab price (the FFAW had $9.05/lb on the table).
On March 24th, the day before the panel was initially set to hold a hearing on the snow crab price, the U.S. Treasury extended the arrival deadline for Russia seafood (including snow crab) into the country by three months.
More Russian snow crab pouring into the US market would be expected to negatively impact the price of Canadian snow crab.
On March 25th — the day set for the hearing on snow crab price — the ASP unexpectedly raised a formal objection to former FFAW leader Earle McCurdy’s appointment to the panel.
Clearly caught off guard, the FFAW described the move as "clearly premeditated and a deliberate act to undermine the collective bargaining process on the eve the snow crab fishery."
By April 1st — after an almost one-week delay — the market price of snow crab had declined considerably, and the panel, which included McCurdy himself by then after the panel decided to keep him, went with the lower price of $7.60/lb.
There's a good chance the panel would have went with $9.05/lb had the hearing proceeded as scheduled on March 25th.
It will be interesting to see whether the crab price decision was unanimous.
It will also be interesting to see whether ASP Executive Director Derek Butler gets into any more detail about why snow crab caught in Newfoundland and Labrador waters is worth $3/lb less than snow crab pulled from Gulf waters.
Which was just ridiculous, and a brutal stumble by Butler.
SEA-NL will keep an eye out for sure.
SEA-NL will also keep an eye out for when the FFAW can use its one appeal (reconsideration) of the $7.60/lb snow crab price allowed under the provincial government-legislated panel system of fish pricing.
Which is about as far removed from a free-market economy as fishing boats from Confederation Building.
Executive Director, SEA-NL