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UPDATE: 2021 sea cucumber price settled at 70¢/lb

The FFAW was expected to ask province’s fish price-setting panel Thursday to reconsider June 2nd decision to set 2021 price paid to harvesters at 60¢/lb.

The Undercurrent, an international seafood news service, published an article Monday on NL's 2021 sea cucumber fishery. Inshore harvesters have yet to fish in protest over the low price.


But that's not necessary after the FFAW and processors, represented by the Association of Seafood Producers, agreed to the new price today (July 7th).


As it turns out, when the price-setting panel set the 2021 price of sea cucumbers at 60¢/lb on June 2nd, the panel said it felt the “right” price for sea cucumbers was in between the FFAW’s proposed 80¢/lb, and the processors’ offer of 60¢/lb.


And that's exactly where the new price lands — dead in the middle. By law, the panel can only choose one price or the other — nowhere in between.


There are no changes to the new protocols for measuring sea cucumber water loss (which the FFAW negotiating team wasn’t prepared for). Read the decision here.


Some harvesters were already losing 60,000lbs of their 260,000lb-quota to water loss, and harvesters feared the new protocols could lower the price per pound to the 40-45¢ range. SEA-NL wrote about it here.


Atlantic-wide exports of dried sea cucumber products to the US reached $51.24/lb in 2020.

Until now, the sea cucumber fleet (19 permanent licence holders, and 40 temporary permit holders) had refused to fish this year over the low price.


SEA CUCUMBER PRICE TO HARVESTERS

2021—60¢/lb (plus new water-loss protocols)

2020—60¢/lb

2019— 80¢/lb

2018—70¢/lb

2017—50¢/lb

2016—50¢/lb

• The FFAW says there’s a 15-1 recovery rate (yield) of dried products to landed weight.

The Undercurrent seafood news service published an article Monday (July 5th) on this year’s sea cucumber fishery, and noted it was unable to confirm what’s being paid for sea cucumbers in other provinces.

This year marked the first time the province’s fish price-setting panel dealt with sea cucumbers, and the panel wrote that it was basically operating blind with limited data on the industry, logistics, its products, and yields.


The panel also noted that processors — who have the best understanding of the industry and markets — aren’t talking, and they can't be forced.

In 2020 there was a dramatic switch by processors to dried sea cucumber products from frozen. Dried sea cucumber products are sold at a significantly higher value per pound because of the significant weight loss due to drying.


The panel noted it has “no understanding of the relative profitability of the dried and frozen products, but there is likely some expectation of improved margins that motivated processors to invest in the drying processes.”

Wrote the panel: “It is difficult to evaluate what constitutes a reasonable sharing of market returns.”

Not having key information makes the entire process a bit of a joke.

Ryan Cleary,

SEA-NL


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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