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Derek Butler can't put processors’ money where his mouth is

Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) says in “given years” the inshore fleet takes 70% or more of the market value, but he won’t release the breakdown for all hands to see.

Fishing boats tied up last year at the Fort Amherst (Prosser's Rock) small boat basin on the south side of St. John's harbour.



God only knows how much processors made from this province’s snow crab fishery in 2021 (Derek might have told Him), when the price to the inshore fleet was locked in at $7.60/lb in April so early in the season.


Did the inshore fleet take “more than their fair share” over the course of last season when just across the Gulf fishermen were paid $8/lb-$12/lb.

I’ll ask Derek today for the information, and let you know what he says.

Then Derek (who I’ve met often enough to call him that) said on NTV Tuesday night that snow crab caught in the Maritimes is better than ours.

He said crab from the Maritimes nets up to $3/lb more because it’s a “different product” — “no barnacles, redder crab, bigger crab, better yields, and closer to markets.”

Marketing obviously isn’t one of Derek’s strengths, and his statement didn’t go over well with fishermen and non-fishermen alike, who say he crossed the line.

I was at a grocery store in Scarborough, Ontario on March 21st, and a 454 gram bag of frozen snow crab was selling for $26.99.

The package didn’t say crab caught in the Maritimes or Newfoundland and Labrador.


Just that it was packaged in Laval, Quebec.




Derek went on to say that crab across the Gulf is closer to market, and the inshore fleet there does their own payroll.

Yes sir, that’s true, but it nowhere near accounts for the $7.60/lb the ASP has offered to pay the inshore fleet when Cape Breton fishermen have recently been paid $12/lb.


That's a $4.40/lb difference, much wider than the $1.45/lb "widest gap ever" that Derek talks about. ($1.45/lb is the difference between the $7.60lb ASP price, and the FFAW's $9.05/lb that the price-seeing panel must choose between.)

This difference in price between Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab, and crab across the Gulf should be no more than 50¢/lb.

Period.


Derek would have to account for any bigger difference — on paper.


The price-setting panel was scheduled to meet Tuesday to hear a motion by the Association of Seafood Producers to remove Earle McCurdy, with another hearing scheduled for today (March 30) on the snow crab price.


According to the panel's schedule, a final price must be released by Monday, April 4th, although some owner-operators expect a decision by Friday of this week.


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

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