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SEA-NL calls for review of province's panel system of fish pricing

The review would be to determine whether inshore harvesters got their fair share of market returns from the province's record-setting 2021 snow crab fishery.

On July 3rd, Ocean Choice International frozen snow crab sold at Sam’s Club in Orlando, Fla. for $16.60/lb US, or $20.41 CAD. That works out to a 169% mark up from the $7.60/lb top price paid to the province's inshore harvesters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, July 30th, 2021

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) says this year’s snow crab fishery had the highest landed value in the province’s history, but there’s evidence inshore harvesters may not have gotten a fair share of market returns.

“When the market price of snow crab continued to rise after the final price to inshore harvesters was set at the end of April — with no way for harvesters to appeal that price — then the system must be overhauled or scrapped, says Ryan Cleary, interim Executive Director of SEA-NL.

“In that light, SEA-NL is asking the Andrew Furey government to review the panel system of fish pricing.”

On April 25th, the province’s Standing Fish Price Setting Panel locked in the snow crab price paid to inshore harvesters at 7.60/lb for the year.

Under the panel system, the FFAW had used its one and only opportunity to appeal the initial 2021 crab price of $5.73/lb that the panel had set on March 31st.

That means that after April 25th harvesters had no opportunity to appeal the $7.60/lb price — even though the market price of snow crab reportedly rose almost weekly after that — and continues to rise to this day for frozen crab.

“The fact that fishermen weren’t able to tap into that rising crab price is an obvious weakness of the panel system of fish pricing that must be reviewed and addressed,” Cleary said.

SEA-NL has estimated the landed value of this year’s snow crab fishery at up to $640 million — a 246% increase from 2020 when the price per pound to harvesters was set at $3.50.

This year’s snow crab quota in waters around Newfoundland and Labrador was 38,186 tonnes — a 29% increase over last year — and the first quota increase in more than 20 years. In 2018, there were 2,431 licensed crab harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.


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