Sky-high prices/huge demand can also intensify pressure on stocks, with debate begun in 3Ps over whether to continue with quota increases, or to ease off the harvesting pedal. DFO science has been positive, but one senior manager may have laid her cards on the social-media table, which isn't going over well with some harvesters.
In this picture from the spring of 2019, AustIn Snow, then 5, holds a snow crab caught off Twillingate.
First to the price of snow crab, which began its market rise in April and hasn't stopped growing since.
Keep in mind the price paid to NL owner-operators for their snow crab was set in stone at the end of April at $7.60/lb — with no opportunity for them to tap into the rising price after that.
Last week, the seafood pricing service Urner Barry reported Russian 5-8 oz clusters at $16.50-$16.70/lb. US, up 45% from April.
Undercurrent News also reported that high crab prices are being driven by low inventories. Snow crab fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Norway wrapped up months ago, while Russia just caught its snow crab quota in the Barents Sea.
Then came news Friday that Alaska's snow crab harvest has been slashed by nearly 90% after the population crashed in the warming Bering Sea.
That fishery doesn't start until January, which helps explains why snow crab has become a treasure in world markets — it has become very hard to come by.
Needless to say, 2022 snow crab prices are looking good at this point.
HEALTH OF THE CRAB STOCK
This year's total catch for Newfoundland and Labrador waters was 38,186 tonnes, a 29% increase from 2020.
It was also the first real increase in a decade. The stats are included n this SEA-NL post: Snow crab fishery soars in value (now how to make it even better next year)
This year's 3Ps quota was set at 5,047 tonnes, the highest since 2015. .
3Ps snow crab quota
2021 5,047 tonnes,
2020 3,292 tonnes,
2019 2,649 tonnes,
2018 1,792 tonnes
2017 1,505 tonnes
2016 3,010 tonnes
2015 4,300 tonnes
2014 6,185 tonnes
2013 6,835 tonnes
DFO's science on 3Ps snow crab has been positive. The following slide is from DFO's stock status update in March.
Annual snow crab surveys take place every fall, but the inshore harvesters who carry them out are sworn to secrecy.
Late last week, the son of an FFAW inshore council member posted on Facebook that 3Ps harvesters should take a snow crab cut before the fleet is tied up again.
"Can't keep drinkin a case a beer and expect to have three left in morning left over when ya drank em all," read the post.
The debate isn't new, but what was alarming was the post was liked by a DFO resource manager.
That's seen as red flag to harvesters, and rightly so.
DFO has to pick it up a notch.
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