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SEA-NL supports province's move to increase snow crab processing capacity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, May 24th, 2022


A week after Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL)

recommended an increase in snow crab processing capacity as a means to reduce pressure on the inshore fleet to fish in potentially unsafe conditions, and the provincial government has done just that.

“More competition in the processing sector should mean more opportunity for inshore boats to land crab quotas faster, with less expense, and safer for all hands,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director.

Provincial Fisheries Minister Derek Bragg approved two of four applications for fish processing licenses — including a new primary processing license for groundfish, whelk, and snow crab (2.5 million/lbs) for St. Mary’s Bay Fisheries Ltd., and doubling the amount of crab Dandy Dan’s Fish Market of Argentia can purchase to two million pounds per year.

Workers at some crab processing operations around the province including St. Lawrence, Bonavista, and Brigus protested against the issuance of more licenses, arguing the move will mean less work at existing plants.

However, the limited amount of processing capacity in the province resulted in processors imposing trip limits and fishing schedules on the inshore fleet — pressuring enterprise owners to fish in questionable weather or to catch their quotas before soft shell or moulting crab shuts down a fishery and the quotas are lost.

“More crab processing capacity will take pressure off the inshore fleet, and that’s what SEA-NL was after,” said Cleary.

The snow crab quota has been on the rise in waters around the province for several years. The 2022 total allowable catch for snow crab is just over 50,000 tonnes, only 6,000 tonnes less than 2010. However, 11 years ago there were 36 snow crab processing licenses in the province, compared to 25 today.

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