FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, June 17th, 2022
Terry Ryan (right) and son Josh (skipper) operate the Atlantic Bluefin Too out of La Scie on Newfoundland's northeast coast.
The La Scie inshore fisherman who vowed to dump his first load of northern shrimp for the season if he couldn’t sell the catch has found a buyer across the Gulf in Nova Scotia.
“Thank God we don’t have to dump it,” says Ryan, who operates the fishing enterprise, Atlantic Blue Too, with his son Josh, the skipper and license holder. “A Nova Scotia buyer has agreed to purchase the shrimp for significantly more than buyers are willing to pay here.”
The province’s shrimp fleets in the Gulf and off the east coast have yet to untie this season, despite the fact the spring price was set on April 24th, and the fishery opened on May 29th.
Buyers have refused to buy at the $1.42/lb price, as set by the government-appointed price-setting panel. A market report prepared for the panel on this year’s shrimp fishery predicted “good demand, low inventories, and higher prices.”
The inshore fleet is free to steam across the Gulf to sell their catches, but if they land in Newfoundland and Labrador the fish must be processed here. Only larger boats like Ryan's 65-footer can make the sail.
Ryan’s threat to dump shrimp (which he made earlier this month, only fishing was delayed because of mechanical issues) was meant to shake up the fishery, and get it going.
He won’t know until the shrimp is graded at the wharf in Nova Scotia on Sunday, but Ryan expects the estimated 60,000/lb catch to sell for at least $1.30/lb. Spring shrimp has the highest yield, and earns the best price.
Ryan said shrimp fishermen here in the province had been offered as low as $1.20/lb for their shrimp — 22¢/lb less than the price set by the panel.
The FFAW and Association of Seafood Producers returned to the bargaining table this week to negotiate a summer shrimp price. After both sides failed to reach agreement, the decision went to the panel, again, on Wednesday.
The panel must choose either the $1.36/lb the FFAW has on the table, or the ASP’s 90¢/lb. A decision is expected by early next week.
Given the price in Nova Scotia that Ryan has been offered, the panel should side with the FFAW.
“The panel becomes a joke when the prices it sets are ignored by buyers who offer whatever they like, and buy whenever they like," said Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. "When the panel sets the price, and the fishery remains dead in the water, it tells you the system is broken. The panel’s day is done.”
Ryan doesn’t expect to make much money from the vessel’s steam to Nova Scotia given the five day, 24-7 round-trip across the Gulf, and the sky-high price of diesel. But he’s prepared to continue the steams until the enterprise’s 300,000/lb quota is taken.
“I can tell you that other fishermen are interested in going to the Maritimes to sell their shrimp too,” said Ryan. “It’s that or leave it in the water, and that won’t pay anyone’s bills.”