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Frustrations rising in sea cucumber fleet (and so they should); new rules unacceptable

The 2021 sea cucumber price may be settled at 70¢/lb, but frustration still rising within south coast fleet, with a meeting scheduled for this morning in St. John’s.

New protocols introduced in this year’s fishery to measure for water loss will deduct more weight from a sea cucumber catch than in previous years (up to 44% from 25-29%), and result in the harvester being paid 10-15¢/lb less for their cucumber catch.

That’s unacceptable.

The protocols will have to be adjusted so that harvesters are fairly compensated, and it's hoped a peaceful resolution will be found today.

The protocols were introduced in the sea cucumber fishery on June 2 when the province's fish price-setting panel set the 2021 price at 60¢/lb. SEA-NL wrote about it here.

According to the panel report, the FFAW was surprised when the Association of Seafood Producers proposed the new protocols, and the panel accepted them outright with little to no debate.

However, in its report (find it here), the panel admitted to not have a sweet clue about the sea cucumber industry — let alone protocols to measure water loss.

This is taken directly from the report:

The FFAW was preparing to appeal the 60¢/lb sea cucumber price to the panel earlier this month, but ultimately didn't after the union worked out the new 70¢/lb price with the processors. SEA-NL wrote about it here.

But the new water-loss protocols weren't adjusted (ridiculous).

There's no doubt the FFAW dropped the ball on this one (it was not prepared for price negotiations), and the price-setting panel clearly has too much power when it can dictate rules in a fishery it knows nothing about.

There are 19 permanent sea cucumber fishing licences off the south coast (fishing zone 3Ps), and 40 temporary permits.

Licence holders can fish as much (or as little) as they want.

Permit holders, on the other hand, must make at least five trips a year and/or land 50% of their harvest cap of 260,000 lbs as a condition of their licence. SEA-NL wrote about it here.

Inshore harvesters have their backs to the wall on this one. It's hard to tie up or protest when they have boats to pay for, and other fisheries to be at.

Let's hope calmer heads prevail, and the fishery gets into gear.

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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