Thirty one inshore owner-operators in the south coast sea cucumber fleet met this morning in Clarenville, and decided to stick to the panel-imposed price of 68¢/lb (plus 27.5% deduction for water loss) even if it means no fishing this year. Good to see the fleet take a stand, and all boats should follow their lead. Make no mistake, a showdown is brewing between processors, and the inshore fleet.
The sea cucumber fishery takes place off Newfoundland's south coast in fishing zone 3Ps, with each licence holder subject to a harvesting cap of 260,000/lbs (118 tonnes). New/emerging sea cucumber fisheries have also opened off the east coast (fishing zones 3LNO) and west coast (fishing zone 4R). OCI Picture.
Processors have refused to buy sea cucumber for the panel price, which was set on May 18, and their attempt at price reconsideration was rejected last week by the price-setting panel. (Another reconsideration request for capelin was also turned down this week.)
Processors were said to be actively trying to get owner-operators down to a lower price, with boats offered 55¢/lb to 65¢/lb.
That's not permitted under the panel system of fish pricing — the minimum price of 68¢/lb is "binding" on all parties — but hasn't stopped similar attempts to sidestep the "binding" price in the snow crab fishery.
In fact, add sea cucumbers to the growing list of panel decisions (northern shrimp, capelin) that are not resulting in commercial fisheries.
The panel has become the joke of the East Coast fishery.
There are 59 licence holders (40 are temporary) in the sea cucumber fleet, which remained tied up over price last year until early August, and eventually fished for 70¢/lb — 10¢/lb more than 2020, although with new grading protocols to deduct for water loss.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit sea-nl.ca