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FFAW unexpectedly accepts 11¢/lb drop in squid price (but then who knows the mind of the union)

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

The 2021 price paid to inshore harvesters for squid has been negotiated at 66¢/lb — a 14% drop from last year’s 77¢/lb, and well down from the $1/lb offered in 2019 before the worldwide pandemic.

Bellevue beach, Trinity Bay, was recently covered in squids that followed caplin to shore.

The deal between the FFAW and processors was done Tuesday night (June 20th).

The immediate reaction was surprise at the low price, considering squid bait is used to catch highly lucrative snow crab, which skyrocketed in price this year to $7.60/lb from $3.50/lb in 2020. (This year's crab price to harvesters was still low, see here.)

The second reaction was shock that the union didn’t refer the price to the panel. (At least then the union could have someone to blame it on.)

Instead, the FFAW wrote an highly unusual essay/“clarification" (find it here,) as to why it accepted the 66¢/lb price.

The union says local landings are up, which drive down the local bait price, and international markets (particularly in Asia) are (without getting too technical) "not good."

The FFAW predicts 9 million pounds of squid will be landed this year — 1.3 million/lbs more than last year. (DFO itself doesn't closely monitor landings.)

According to the union's math, the fishery's "current baits needs" are up to 5.5 million pounds, although the 2019 report of the price-setting panel said the amount of squid bait used locally was closer to 10 million/lbs.


In its statement, the union said it's "not happy with the price decrease, but are realistic when assessing the markets."

It’s almost as if the union was negotiating with itself.

Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers could have taken last week off on vacation. (Crab profits to processors should be huge this year.)

While local squid bait went for $1.75/lb this year, imported squid from places like Argentina went for up to $2.50/lb — even though the FFAW has said there's no difference.

Between 2015-2019 the price of squid bait charged to harvesters increased to $2.10/lb from $1.20/lb, while the price paid to them for their squid catches rose to 85¢/lb from 55¢/lb.

Squid in Canadian waters is not managed by DFO, but by the Northwest Atlantic Organization, which (mis)manages waters outside the 200-mile limit. The total allowable catch for squid has been set at 34,000 tonnes for 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Only about 4,000 tonnes of squid was taken last year, with about 77% harvested by Canada.

Ryan Cleary,


Independent licensed owner-operators are encouraged to join SEA-NL here. These blog posts will be public for a limited time, before becoming exclusive to the membership.

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