That’s the question the inshore fleet is asking leading up to the release of the summer shrimp price, expected this week. Boats won’t fish for the 90¢/lb processors have on the table, and processors won’t buy for the $1.36/lb the FFAW has proposed. With the price-setting panel set to choose one or the other, the stand-off is likely to continue.
When the spring shrimp price was set at $1.42/lb in late April (52¢/lb more than the Association of Seafood Producers had on the table ), the panel highlighted "good demand, lower inventories and higher prices," but processors have refused to buy for that price, reportedly offering as low as $1.20/lb.
Most of the province's inshore shrimp fleet in the Gulf (fishing zone 4R) only fishes shrimp, so a delayed season is particularly painful — especially with most EI claims exhausted.
Fishermen Terry Ryan and his son Josh of La Scie on the northeast coast caught their first 60,000/lb load of the season late last week, and delivered it to North Sydney on Monday (June 20th), for a price in the 1.35/lb range.
Terry Ryan said he plans to return to the shrimp fishing grounds today, and will continue selling his catch to Nova Scotia until his 300,000/lb quota is caught.
The inshore fleet is free to steam across the Gulf to sell their catches, but if a boat lands in Newfoundland and Labrador the fish must be processed here. Only larger boats like Ryan's 65-footer can make the sail. Even then the sky-high price of diesel cuts deep into profit margins.
The Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company continued to pay their fishermen $7.60/lb for snow crab when the price dropped to $6.15/lb, and there's word the coop will pay their shrimp fishermen $1.42/lb spring price no matter the price set by the panel.
When the summer shrimp price went to the panel last week the FFAW said the goal of the ASP members is to "eliminate any potential of a shrimp fishery this year by offering insulting prices well below what the market indicates is fair."
Question is, why?
Is it because they have so much money tied up in snow crab — the price of which is still falling in international markets?
Whatever the reason, markets must be found for the shrimp. An auction is one idea, wide open to outside buyers.
In the longer term, the panel system of fish pricing is obviously broken, and must be addressed.
In 2020, shrimp landings in the province were valued at $143 million.
The 2022 quota for the northern shrimp stock fished by the inshore fleet off southern Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland — known as shrimp fishing area (SFA) 6 — is set at 6,563 tonnes, a 1.1% cut from last year. This year's quota for the shrimp area of the Gulf (area 8) fished by the province's inshore fleet was cut by 19%.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit sea-nl.ca