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Outside of crab and lobster, 2021 prices paid to NL harvesters were flat across the board

Make no mistake, 2021 was a boom year for the NL's inshore fishery based on one main success story — snow crab. This year's landed value has been estimated at $640 million, a 246% increase from last year. Lobster prices were up too, as that fishery grows in waters around the province. Beyond that, most prices (from cod to turbot to lump roe) were rolled over from last year.

The Port de Grave fleet on a Sunday morning.

Here's a breakdown of 2021 prices paid to inshore owner-operator fish harvesters:


2021 — $7.60/lb

2020 — $3.50/lb

• The $7.60/lb price to harvesters was set on April 25th, and while market prices rose steadily after that, harvesters could not appeal for a higher price because the system didn't allow for it.

Lobster (Opening week highs)

2021 —$9.96/lb

2020 — $6.76/lb

• NL lobsters may not be sold until after the season is over, and prices rise, but the province's fish price setting panel (as noted in its decision on this year's lobster price-setting formula) said it has no way to verify,


2021 — $1.10/lb

2020 — $1.08/lb

• DFO went outside its own rulebook earlier this year to lower the 2021 shrimp quota. In mid-September, the FFAW successfully negotiated a 20¢/lb increase to the fall price for shrimp, but 99% of the quota had been taken by then.

Cod (Grade A, fall price)

2021 — 80¢/lb (rollover)

2020 — 80¢/lb

• This year's Grade A cod price was the same paid to harvesters in 2001, 20 years ago. Despite running a cod quality project since 2015 involving 3.3 million/lbs of fish and hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funding, the price of cod has only risen a few cents.


2021 — $1.70/lb (rollover)

2020 — $1.70/lb

• During price negotiations the FFAW said Quebec fishermen were paid $1.95/lb for the same turbot landed in Newfoundland.

Sea cucumber

2021 —70¢/lb (new grading protocol also lowered price by 10¢/lb or more)

2020 — 60¢/lb

• The sea cucumber fleet didn't sail until early August — two months late into the season — after a tie-up failed to win harvesters the concessions they were looking for.

Negotiations were a joke from the get-go.


2021 (rollover)

2020: 200-400 gram: $0.22

400-600 gram: $0.26

600 gram plus: $0.34.

• This year's 4,000-tonne quota was half of what it was last year, and a massive drop from between 2000-2010 when annual landings averaged over 40,000 tonnes.


2021 —.(Rollover)

2020 — Floating price, as determined by harvester and buyer.

Caplin (Grade A)

2021 — .46¢/lb (up 4¢/lb from last year)

2020 — 42¢/lb • This years caplin quota of 14,500 tonnes was a 25% cut from 2020, despite the fact DFO can not accurately estimate caplin numbers because the department doesn't do a survey of the full area using sonar. Other countries such as Iceland do acoustic surveys, allowing them to estimate more exact numbers.


2021 — (Rollover).

2020 — $1.35/lb (subject to terms and conditions)


2021 — 66¢/lb

2020 — 77¢/lb

 The FFAW wrote a highly unusual essay/“clarification" as to why it accepted an 11¢/lb price drop from last year.


2021 — 85¢/lb

2020 — $1.15 in 2020

• The province's fish price setting panel last dealt with the price of whelk in 2016 when the panel agreed to an FFAW/Association of Seafood Buyers request that the price shall be a "floating" one, meaning to be negotiated between harvester and buyer. The FFAW doesn't include whelk with its posted fish prices.


Pricing is based on actual market returns, and takes up to four weeks to determine a final price to the harvester. The final price to harvesters for the week of Sept. 4th this year was $7.84/lb compared to $5.14 final price for Sept. 5th, 2020.

Ryan Cleary,


Independent licensed owner-operators are encouraged to join SEA-NL here. These blog posts will be public for a limited time, before becoming exclusive to the membership.

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1 Comment

Sep 28, 2021

Hi Ryan,

You did a great job in researching and publishing the above report. Thank you for your thorough work. The cod price I pay if the cod are ever available ranges from 14-28.00/lb of filleted and deboned and skinned fish

Alphonsus Forgeron

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