Do local crab processors have stakes in mainland buyers (and could that influence wharf price here?)
Theoretically I s’pose, but SEA-NL isn’t in a position to investigate ownership of all the processing companies/buyers in Eastern Canada. Only today I was asked whether local crab processors have purchased shares of fish companies across the Gulf with the intent to keep wharf prices down there … so as to drive down wharf prices here?
Newfoundland and Labrador's snow crab fishery is the largest in Canada, worth a record $758 million in 2022.
Sure b’y, was my initial reaction.
Then I remembered how Ocean Choice International has a new $15-$20-million plant set to open in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia that will process “shellfish” from all over the Atlantic coast.
Maybe the provincial government(s) should look into the potential seafood market implications?
Then I remembered that Derrick Bragg is our Fisheries minister, and there’s more of a chance of him blowing fish kisses at Jason Sullivan.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s is the country’s largest largest snow crab fishery, worth $758 million last year, more than all other fisheries combined, and a dramatic drop in price would stop the fishery dead in the water.
Think 1992 dead in the water.
In northern cod news from earlier today, the average 2022 price of cod was 81¢/lb round, and the number of owner-operators chasing them is dropping like a stone.
It’s snow crab that pays the bills for most successful fishermen around here.
Imagine buying groceries for your family (let alone a hairy-arsed crew) with your income cut to less than half.
Some owner-operators are praying for half of last year’s lowest price of $6.15/lb.
Some owner-operators would barely get stamps if that were the case, let alone keep a crew.
Wouldn't be long then before the airlines would start adding direct flights to Alberta.
In the latest on the the 2023 snow crab price, negotiations to bring in a crab pricing formula haven’t gotten anywhere, and, once again, the panel may set the initial 2023 price if the FFAW and processors can’t get it done.
And so the fatal-offer selection panel will chose either the union price or the processors’ price — even if the fair price is somewhere in the middle, and the spread is a few dollars.
That may not sound fair, but Earle McCurdy is still around to look after owner-operators, and Greg Pretty has the plant worker’s back.
What’s there to worry about?
What’s different in the 2023 fishery from years past is what little trust existed is gone.
The processors said weeks ago they were beginning the 2023 season with a $100 million-plus anchor around their necks from last year.
The market price for snow crab in the U.S. or Asia could skyrocket, but the anchor must be dealt with first.
As it stands, the likelihood of either boats not fishing or processors not buying is as guaranteed as seals being well fed regardless.
How to restore trust?
I’ll say it again, an auction system open to outside fish buyers and catches sold to the highest bidder is the way to go.
Anything less than amounts to market manipulation.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.