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With 40% of crab quota left in water, slowing down/stopping production will devastate inshore fleet

Updated: May 31

The inshore fleet had already been subject to trip limits and fishing schedules for weeks, but today the Association of Seafood Producers announced processors will be "limiting their production" of Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab — the province's largest, and most lucrative fishery — by either slowing down or stopping production outright. The decision will be left to individual plants.

As of today, 60% of this year's 50,000-tonne snow crab quota for Newfoundland and Labrador has been landed. With 20,000 tonnes (44 million/lbs) left in the water, and at the latest price of $6.22/lb, that works out to more than $274 million.



Some crab boats have already been called back to port, and some processing companies are not releasing any more bait or ice.


Cold storage facilities around the province are blocked with crab (and refrigeration or reefer containers are in short supply around the world), leaving no room to store other species like caplin or shrimp.


That could create a domino effect on slowing down or stopping other commercial fisheries — a devastating impact to the fishery that may rival the impact of the 1992 northern cod moratorium.


The pressure will be on plants to sell snow crab at a lower price, but such a move could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.


Snow crab prices have fallen almost 40% since the beginning of the year, as reported by Undercurrent news on Saturday (May 27th).


The article describes the lower prices as a "hangover" from the higher prices of 2021, but some industry players expect prices to improve with the start of the summer tourist season.


Cheaper Russian crab (which has been banned by the U.S. for that country's war on Ukraine) has flooded into Asian markets like Japan.



SNOW CRAB DRAGGED OUT

The snow crab price started the 2022 season at $7.60/lb (the same as last year), but dropped to $6.15/lb almost six weeks later in mid-May with a decision of the province's price-setting panel.


The buyers imposed trip limits and fishing schedules to slow landings, and many boats missed out on the higher crab price because of it — already losing millions of dollars of potential revenue.


The FFAW has described trip limits/fishing schedules as "dangerous and unfair" even as the union allows for them in the master collective agreement.


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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