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This year’s fish-pricing fiasco will impact 2023 season (‘If not even more years’): Derek Butler

That’s the takeaway from the opinion piece in the St. John's Telegram this weekend by Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP). With one side (owner-operators) with record 2022 earnings, and the other side (processors) with record losses, he pretty much says future fish prices will be down. “Worse than the moratorium,” he says, although he made no mention of 2021 probably being the best year for processors since the '92 moratorium.

The inshore boats of Bay de Verde, Sunday, July 17th, 2022.

The irony of course is that Butler’s crowd is losing money on a crab price that processors themselves offered up, both the initial $7.60/lb to start the season, and current $6.15/lb that some buyers aren't paying anyway.

Glenn Branton, chief executive officer of the province's Labour Relations Board, says a complaint has not been filed regarding processors paying less the "binding" price of $6.15/lb. I can only assume that the FFAW has filed a grievance with processors, but who knows.

As it stands, the current price-setting model is broken, Butler is right about that.

The prices set by the panel aren't getting fisheries started (northern shrimp, sea cucumber, capelin, and possibly squid).

While the sea cucumber fleet is tied up, Green's Seafoods in Winterton is flat out processing sea cucumbers. (Still no word on where they're getting the product from.)

The entire fishing industry should sit up, and take notice when threats are made that future seasons/prices will be impacted.

All hands should also question why the price of everything — except fish — is rising.


Meanwhile, the FFAW's Keith Sullivan has a guest column on the local CBC website saying that companies are trying to pushing union members back to the "days of the merchants," while the provincial government continues to "protect" companies.

As the 2021 report by the premier's economy recovery team stated, the collective bargaining structure in the fishery is anti-competitive, requires an exception from the federal Competition Act, and isolates the fishery from the market where quality and consistency of supply is required.

"As well, many of the decisions and policy positions brought forward harm fish processing workers, but the voice of harvesters overshadows these concerns."

No wonder the FFAW came down on the report like a hammer, and why nothing changes.

Now it's change or die.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit

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