‘When the market price of a species like snow crab continues to rise after the price to harvesters has been set — with no way for harvesters to appeal that price — than the system must either be overhauled or scrapped.’
The following letter is published in today’s (July 13th) Telegram.
Soaring crab prices leave harvesters out in the cold
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 171% mark up from the most recent $7.53/lb price paid to Newfoundland, and Labrador inshore harvesters for the snow crab they land. (SEA-NL wrote about it here) .
The 2021 price paid to harvesters for snow crab is fantastic — the highest it’s ever been, but the question that must be asked is whether it amounts to a reasonable sharing of market returns?
On April 26th, the province’s Standing Fish Price Setting panel set the most recent price paid to NL harvesters for snow crab at $7.60/lb. (Find it here). The price dipped as low as $7.53/lb in mid-June to adjust for weekly currency fluctuations.
Under the panel system of fish pricing, the FFAW used up its one and only opportunity to appeal the initial 2021 price of snow crab of $5.73/lb — which had been set by the panel on March 31st.
So there’s been no increase to harvesters since April 26, even though international seafood media have reported that crab prices have risen since then — and are still rising.
On July 6th, seafoodnews.com reported that the price of snow crab as “inelastic,” meaning that that no matter the price consumers are still prepared to buy it — putting it in the same category as necessities like medicine or utilities. (Find it here.)
The fact that fishermen were not able to tap into that rising crab price is an obvious weakness of the panel system of fish pricing that must be addressed.
When the market price of a species like snow crab continues to rise after the price to harvesters has been set — with no way for harvesters to appeal that price — than the system must either be overhauled or scrapped.
Interim Executive Director, 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.