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Imitation crab sells for more than real thing; inshore harvesters described as ‘begging’ for help

Half a pound (227 grams) of crab-flavoured Alaskan pollock was selling today for $4.29 at a grocery store in Fortune — hammering home the ridiculousness of the panel-set price of $2.20/lb for wild North Atlantic snow crab. In international seafood news, fish harvesters who demonstrated on the steps of Confederation Building Monday were described as "begging" for help.

A package of imitation crab was selling today for at the Foodland in Fortune $4.29 for a 227-gram package. The province's fish price-setting panel set the price of real North Atlantic snow crab at $2.20/lb to start the 2023 season.

In coverage of the demonstration Undercurrent seafood news service described the harvesters as "begging for provincial politicians to get involved."

Tell me that doesn't make your blood boil — this province's inshore fleet described to the seafood world as begging.

Undercurrent will have to more than beg to get me to do another interview.

Newfoundland and Labrador's fish pricing system, known as final-offer selection, saw a government-appointed panel choose the processors' price of $2.20/lb for snow crab to start the 2023 season over the FFAW's offer of $3.10/lb.

In its decision, the panel noted that the "correct" price was in between $2.20-$3.10/lb, but under the legislation the panel must choose one price or the other.

If the price set by the panel is not "correct" ... then it's wrong.

On Saturday, April 8th, snow crab was selling for $17.95/lb US at "The Wharf" in Washington, D.C. a popular area for seafood shops and restaurants in the U.S. capital.

How to restore trust?

Once again, an electronic auction system open to outside fish buyers and with catches sold to the highest bidder is the way to go in terms of complete transparency, a free and open market, and the best possible price for your fish.

Anything less amounts to market manipulation.

That's pie in the sky of course when both the FFAW and local buyers don't want outside buyers.

No matter what the union says.

Until then, it's likely the $2.20/lb snow crab price to start the season won't change unless and until there's an official reconsideration, as outlined under the act.

Even then there are no guarantees in a pricing system that fails to deliver a fair market share to the inshore fleet.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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