That’s how the headlines have read in the international seafood press in recent days with Ocean Choice International front and centre at the Boston Seafood Show. OCI says the snow crab price paid to the inshore fleet needs to drop, and then the company boosts just days later of its new $20-million processing plant opening later this year in Darthmouth, N.S, with plans for more processing in Europe.
Martin and Blaine Sullivan of Ocean Choice International.
On Thursday (March 17th), Martin Sullivan said snow crab prices need to drop, although he didn’t say from what.
It's either from the $7.60/lb the province's inshore fleet was paid from April 25th onward for the remainder of 2021, or from the $8/lb-$12/lb paid to fleets in the Gulf over the course of last season.
That’s quite the difference that Martin doesn't elaborate on.
Then, on Monday (March 21st), another article was published that four firms were out hundreds of millions of dollars in future sales as a result of the U.S. ban on Russian seafood.
Of the $1.2 billion the United States reportedly spent on Russian seafood last year, about $510 million was for snow crab — representing 30% of imports.
That's a massive market opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab.
Not if you ask Martin Sullivan.
It's only a massive opportunity to OCI if the price to inshore owner-operators is kept as low as possible.
That point must not be forgotten.
OCI is all about itself.
God only knows how much the company made from the snow crab fishery in 2021 based on the $7.60/lb the provincial government-appointed panel set in stone so early in the season.
SEA-NL proposed changes to the system, but Bernard Davis, the minister responsible for labour, said it's enough that harvesters and processors both made money.
He completely missed the point.
Both sides did make record money from last year's snow crab fishery, but both sides did not realize a fair market return.
Then there's news again that OCI is spending $20 million on a new state-of-the-art, 87,000-square foot building/processing plant — not in their home province — but in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The Andrew Furey government didn't speak out against that either.
An estimated $10 million is coming from government — $8 million from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, plus another $2 million from ACOA. SEA-NL wrote about it here: The blood of all NLers should be boiled by now
The Atlantic Fisheries Fund that was initially proposed to compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for giving up a constitutional right (minimum processing requirements) as part of the Canada/EU free trade deal is today being used against us.
INITIAL 2021 PRICE OF CRAB IN PLACE BY APRIL 4TH
The province's price-setting panel has set this Friday, March 25th, as a potential hearing date for snow crab if a price isn't hammered out by then, with a binding collective agreement to be in place by April 4th.
Fishermen do not vote on the final price, and under provincial legislation they also don't have the right to strike.
This was the price of a 454 gram bag of snow crab for sale at a grocery store in the Greater Toronto Area on Monday, March 21st. The crab was processed in Laval, Quebec, and suffered from freezer burn. OCI's Martin Sullivan has said snow crab prices paid to the inshore fleet must drop because inventories aren't selling. Only that wasn't the story last fall.
From my perspective, the inshore fleet should be paid no less than $10/lb to start the season..
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.