With the dust settled after the tie-up, and market numbers finally coming out of the States, two things are clear: 1) the current $2.25/lb price to the inshore fleet is too low; and 2) setting a threshold for reconsideration (which had never been done before) makes no sense.
The southside of St. John's harbour, across The Narrows (the harbour entrance) from Signal Hill/the Battery/Cabot Tower.
The current $2.25/lb price paid to the inshore fleet represents a 35% share of the most recent Urner Barry price of $4.85 US ($6.51 Cdn), 5-8 oz sections.
That's down dramatically from the 54% share to the inshore fleet recorded in the first week of June 2022 when boats were paid $6.15/lb and the Urner Barry price was $9.10 US ($11.41 Cdn), 5-8 oz.
Clearly, this year's minimum price of $2.20/lb to the inshore fleet should have been higher based on a fair market share — which some enterprise owners say should be 60% plus.
PRICE INCREASES AS BENCHMARKS REACHED
As part of the deal to end the tie-up, the inshore fleet will see incremental increases as the Urner Barry price reaches certain benchmarks.
For example, on June 2nd the fleet was bumped up to $2.25/lb when the Urner Barry crab price reached $4.85.
At first glance that looked like a 46% share to the inshore fleet, only the FFAW didn't convert the $4.85 US to Canadian ($6.51).
Which reduces the inshore's share to 35%.
The $2.75 that will be eventually be paid to the inshore fleet when the Urner Barry price reaches $6.01 US ($8.03 Cdn) will represent a 34% share.
The FFAW should not get away with celebrations of any kind.
Federal help would be appreciated, but the union executive must also be held accountable for the crab circus of 2023.
If they had any shame they would resign.
In the deal to end the tie-up, the FFAW agreed there wouldn't be a formal crab price reconsideration until the Urner Barry price reaches a $6.01/lb US benchmark, which makes no sense.
Thresholds have never been used before in final-offer selection, and at a certain point as the crab price starts to rise (which it looks to be doing now) there's no point in holding back. The inshore fleet deserves nothing less than fair-market share, and this latest crab deal is a giant step backwards in efforts to achieve that.
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 sea-nl.ca to join.