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Big Reset warned province fish-pricing system 'anti-competitive', refloated idea of auctions

Nothing's been done to date on the fishery advice from the Big Reset — the 2021 report of the premier's economic recovery team. The report highlighted how the combative structure of fish price negotiations with the FFAW going head-to-head against the Association of Seafood Producers requires an exemption in the federal Competition Act

(Section 4).

Over the first 11 months of 2021, Newfoundland and Labrador's snow crab fishery (the country's largest) reached $612 million — a 174% increase over 2020.

The fish pricing set up in this province — which involves a provincial government-appointed three-person panel setting the price of fish when the union/processors can’t hammer out a deal — also isolates the fishing industry from the markets where quality and consistency of supply is required.

Those points are front and centre in the fishery section of the Big Reset, the 2021 report of Premier Andrew Furey’s economic recovery team.

The report pointed out how one of the key recommendations of a 2003 fishery review was to establish a fish auction so that “market and quality issues” are taken into consideration in the price paid for fish.

However, that recommendation was “rejected” in favour of the panel system of fish pricing.

The Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act once allowed for an auction system for the sale of fish, but a sunset clause was also included in the act so that the possibility of an auction expired years ago.

The Big Reset also highlighted that snow crab is the most valuable seafood species in Newfoundland and Labrador waters, but the heavy dependence on one species places the industry in a precarious position if snow crab stocks decline or market prices drop.


It’s not only illegal for fishermen to truck crab to the mainland to sell, they’re not allowed to sell their product at sea.

Fisheries and Oceans said last year the off-loading at sea (over-the-side sales) is not permitted.

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 Sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.

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