It’s no wonder the decision by the government-appointed panel to set the summer shrimp price at 90¢/lb wasn’t unanimous when they admitted it wasn’t the right one, and may not result in a fishery. It's shocking that the panel members didn’t resign over the impossibility of it all. Meantime, processors are outright ignoring the panel’s $6.15/lb snow crab price, and setting their own — all of which points to a panel system of fish pricing in this province that has become the joke of Eastern Canada.
FIRST TO SHRIMP
At 90¢/lb, the inshore shrimp fleet is getting screwed on the summer shrimp price.
In its written report, the panel said straight up it was “strongly of the view” that the appropriate price was between the 90¢/lb offered by Association of Seafood Producers, and the FFAW’s $1.36/lb.
But under provincially legislated “final offer selection” the panel must choose one price or the other.
Given a spread of 46¢/lb between offers, splitting the difference amounts to 23¢lb.
That’s an example of how much the inshore fleet is losing on shrimp alone under a pricing system that cannot deliver a fair market return to the inshore fleet.
Make no mistake, fishermen across the Gulf are pointing their fingers east, and shaking their heads in disbelieve.
How do the newfies put up with it?
Not only that, the FFAW says Royal Greenland in Quebec has been buying northern shrimp from Quebec harvesters, caught in Newfoundland and Labrador waters, for $1.36/lb and are only offering NL harvesters a mere 90¢/lb.
Most of the province's inshore shrimp fleets in the Gulf and off Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland have yet to leave the wharf this season, except for Terry and Josh Ryan of La Scie who are selling catches in Nova Scotia.
Since then at least one processor has started to charge inshore boats for services that, until now, were included in the negotiated price.
Factoring in those costs, some owner-operators say they may only get paid $3.70/lb for their snow crab, which would be a slap in the face to fishermen, and a middle finger to the price-setting panel.
There are indications from the provincial Fisheries Minister that the Labour Department may be looking into the situation.
This isn't a problem a grievance will solve.
The panel system of fish pricing is beyond repair, and should to be towed to sea and sunk.
Only the Andrew Furey administration ignores that elephant in the room (in this case on the wharf), and the fishery limps along on the strength of a crab price that's also collapsing.
I've heard it said lately that times will get worse than the moratorium.
Ryan Cleary, Executive Director, SEA-NL To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit sea-nl.ca