Skip to content

Collective bargaining results in higher landed values despite lower landed volumes

April 30, 2018

This article was originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Union Forum, written by Robert Keenan, FFAW Projects Manager

FFAW has one legislated requirement for being the association representing inshore fish harvesters – to collectively bargain minimum fish prices for its members. Collective bargaining is a difficult and delicate responsibility and measuring success is a challenge requiring context of quotas, markets, and currency.

The Newfoundland and Labrador inshore fishery is certainly in a state of transition – shrimp quotas have declined at an astonishing rate and snow crab quotas are down by a third since 2014. To put this in perspective, shrimp and crab made up 50.7% of all fish landed by the inshore in 2014; these two species 35.8% of all fish landed by the inshore.

While this decline moves forward, the full return of the cod fishery is still a few years away. This is the transition – an uncertain period that is difficult to predict year after year.

Though the transition can be difficult, it has been the position of your Union to minimize its financial impact. Your Union has done some of its best work at the collective bargaining table, keeping prices to harvesters high to compensate for lower quotas levels.

The chart below puts the success of our price negotiations since 2014 in proper context. On the left axis is landed value and on the right axis is landed volume.

As the chart shows, landed volume has been in decline since 2014. That year approximately 370 million pounds of fish was landed by the inshore. In 2017, the landed volume dropped noticeably to approximately 283 million pounds. This is a 23.5% decrease in landings.

But as volume has decreased, value has increased. In 2014 the landed value was approximately $425 million; in 2017 it was approximately $500 million. This was an increase of 17%. Since 2014 harvesters have landed almost 100 million pounds less, but the value of their landings has increased by $75 million.

The increases in value are seen across all the species negotiated by your Union.

  • Snow crab 2014 price $2.34 in 2014; in 2017 it was $4.39, an 87% increase
  • Shrimp 2014 price was 93 cents in 2014; in 2017 it was $1.27, a 36% increase
  • Lobster 2014 price was $3.92; in 2017 it was $6.89, a 76% increase
  • Halibut 2014 price was $6.15; in 2017 it was $7.00, a 14% increase
  • Capelin in 2014 was 9 cents; in 2017 it was 14 cents, a 55% increase
  • Cod in 2014 was 80 cents for Grade A; in 2017 Grade A was 83 cents, a 4% increase.

Together, these 6 species accounted for 65% of all fish landed by the inshore in 2017.

Harvesters saw price increases for all of these species over the past 4 fishing seasons, due to the collective work of your Union and the hundreds of volunteers that sit on negotiating committees.