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Good signs for squid fishery; question remains whether processors will buy for panel price of 70¢/lb

With better quality, a lower price than Argentinian squid (its main competitor), and moratorium on herring and mackerel in the Gulf, this season looks to be a good one for local squids. The only uncertainty is whether processors will buy for the panel price of 70¢/lb considering their antics during negotiations. What's certain is that Atlantic Canada will be desperate for bait next year.

In setting the squid price at 70¢/lb to start the season, the province's fish-price setting panel relied on a market report prepared by TriNav Fisheries Consultants Inc. a division of TriNav Marine, which also runs a vessel-brokerage division, and The Navigator magazine.




The TriNav report painted a positive picture for the squid fishery, and highlighted that the moratorium on commercial fisheries for herring/mackerel in the Gulf (which "may take several years") will have "serious ramifications on the bait market."


The loss of herring/mackerel will create opportunities for squid, which will be a "valuable commodity" in 2023 as the main bait in the snow crab fisheries.


Indeed, squid "will be required to fill the void."


At the same time, the Association of Seafood Producers said cold-storage capacity is a huge challenge this year with limited space to store squid because snow crab is taking up the room.


Processors also warned that in the absence of cash flow from crab sales "credit lines and other sources of financing would have to be used to finance squid purchases this year."


The question left hanging is whether processors will buy squid for the panel price?


They would be fools not to.


This video of northern short fin squid from August, 2021 was taken just outside Bonavista by fisherman Lee Tremblett.



While the price for squid bait charged to the inshore fleet has been steady at $1.75/lb over the past three years, the price to the fleet for their squid catch dropped to 66¢/lb last year from 77¢/lb in 2020, and the $1/lb offered in 2019 before the worldwide pandemic.


This year's squid negotiations broke off before they even began after a request by the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) to postpone price talks until late August was rejected by the price-setting panel.


After exchanging initial offers (80¢/lb FFAW; 25¢/lb ASP), the ASP wouldn't talk to the union.


The price-setting panel eventually chose the union's final offer of 70¢/lb over the ASP's proposed tiered system that could see a fall price as low as 30¢/lb.


SEA-NL wrote about squid negotiations here: You can't tell the mind of a squid buyer; panel price may not result in yet another fishery


FINAL OFFER SELECTION UNDERMINED

In its written decision on the squid price, the price-setting panel said the ASP's failure to take part in "meaningful discussions" undermined the final-offer selection process.


But then that system has been undermined all season with different species, which is why the provincial government called a review.


ASP ISSUE ANOTHER WARNING ABOUT 2023 CRAB SEASON

The ASP argued during squid negotiations that processors "will likely have to sell squid bait to harvesters at lower prices given the risks in Crab that will carry over into 2023."


The ASP's Derek Butler issued the same warning in a recent Telegram article, which SEA-NL wrote about here: This year’s fish-pricing fiasco will impact 2023 season (‘If not even more years’): Derek Butler


Keep in mind that Butler and his crowd didn't foresee the drop in snow crab prices as a result of inflation.


As well, both panel decisions on snow crab price this year — $7.60/lb to start the season, and $6.15 later in May — were laid on the table by the processors.


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


The recreational squid fishery is open year-round, and while there are no limits on the amount the general public can catch —squid caught recreationally cannot be bought, sold, traded or bartered.


Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit sea-nl.ca

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