Only most will be forced to fish for it. The price-setting panel sided with seafood processors Wednesday and set the top price for summer shrimp at 92¢/lb landed at the plant — 16¢/lb less than the spring price of $1.08/lb.
Newfoundland and Labrador quota for northern shrimp has dropped from a total allowable catch (TAC) of 164,000 tonnes in 2007 to landings of 8,100 tonnes in 2022 (out of a 9,528-tonne TAC). Catch rates remain low in the Gulf where the redfish stock has taken off.
The panel rushed out its summer shrimp decision (which wasn't unanimous) ahead of its written report.
Some fishermen will not sell shrimp here in this province for the summer price of 92¢/lb (the top price for the best count) — when they wouldn't land for the higher spring price of $1.08/lb.
Those fishermen will continue to steam across the Gulf to sell their shrimp in New Brunswick/Quebec — not without problems of course: Furey government washes hands of shrimp 'hostage' situation in Port au Choix; boats unload in NB
Shrimp prices across the Gulf can easily hover in the $1.50/lb range, but mainland buyers are said to cater to the fresh shrimp markets of central Canada, which has taken off.
As opposed to the frozen shrimp market that most processors in this province cater to, which has "gone to shit," as one owner-operator put it.
The skills of the FFAW's chief price negotiator have also been called into question.
Unfortunately, as is too often the case, many fishermen will reluctantly take what the union is given.
BROKEN PANEL SYSTEM
In a Wednesday Facebook post, the FFAW said the summer shrimp decision highlights the “broken panel system."
Keep in mind it was only in April that the union was basically accused of bargaining in bad faith over the spring shrimp price.
FFAW SPRING PRICE 'EXTREME'
In April shrimp price negotiations, the Association of Seafood Producers offered a price of $1.08/lb compared to the union's "extreme" price of $1.58/lb.
The panel said unanimously — and unanimously was highlighted (meaning Earle McCurdy included) — that the FFAW's $1.58/lb offer did not reflect a "reasonable price" that either side "might be able to live with.
IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT THE FUCK?
The panel said neither side brought forward allegations of bargaining in bad faith, but even mentioning bargaining in bad faith leads you to believe there was bargaining in bad faith.
The shrimp fishery is a perfect example of all that's wrong with this province's government-controlled final-offer selection system of fish pricing.
• Many shrimp fishermen ended up unloading across the Gulf then too.
• A mediator was eventually brought in and the 2022 fishery went ahead at $1.20/lb.
There are six shrimp processing plants operating in the province, including one in Labrador (which handles all shrimp caught off Labrador), and the other five in Fogo, Old Perlican, Anchor Point, Port Aux Choix, and St. Anthony.
In 2022 the under 65' fleet landed 8,100 tonnes of shrimp with a landed value of $20 million and an average price per pound of $1.12.
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.