FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, July 21st, 2022
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) welcomes a review of the province’s collective bargaining model for fish pricing in light of the chaos in this year’s industry with prices that have failed to kick-start commercial fisheries.
“It's welcome news the fish-pricing model will be reviewed and overhauled to ensure consistent, fair-market return to the inshore fleet,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “Just as important is that the wild commercial fisheries have finally caught the attention of the Premier Andrew Furey administration.”
The news of a review of the collective bargaining model for fish pricing in this province comes days after SEA-NL called for the elimination of the “farcical system” before entire fisheries are lost.
Under the final-offer selection system of fish pricing — which is unique to this province — a government-appointed panel steps in when the union and processors/buyers fail to reach a deal on the price to be paid to the inshore fleet for a particular species.
Legislation dictates the panel must choose one price or the other, with its final decision “binding” on both sides. However, some prices set by the panel this year have resulted in delayed fisheries (sea cucumber), while others (northern shrimp, east coast capelin) have yet to start.
In the case of northern shrimp, processors wouldn’t buy for the panel’s spring price of $1.42/lb, and then the inshore fleet wouldn’t fish for the panel’s summer price of 90¢/lb.
Government has reportedly appointed a mediator to meet today with the union and processors over the shrimp price. Meanwhile, the shrimp fleet is expected to head to sea today after Ocean Choice International agreed to an interim price of $1.20/lb.
In the case of snow crab, in recent weeks at least one processor has attempted to pay less than the latest “binding” panel price of $6.15/lb by charging owner-operators for services like trucking that in precious years were covered by the negotiated price.
David Conway, chair of the province’s Labour Relations Board, will carry out the review of the collective bargaining model, which was introduced in 2006. Under the model, strikes or lockouts are prohibited, and panel decisions on prices are binding, meaning prices are not voted on by the fleets.
Executive Director, SEA-NL