Colossal Crab Conundrum: Minister Fails to Address Lack of Competition in Seafood Processing
May 24, 2022
ST. JOHN’S, NL – Minister of Fisheries Derrick Bragg announced his decision on important recommendations from the Fish Processing Licensing Board this morning, rejecting numerous recommendations to issue new crab processing licenses and compounding frustrations felt by fish harvesters and communities who have lost out on millions of dollars in potential income this fishing season. A Minister rejecting the Board’s recommendations is both unprecedented and unjustified, as the purpose of the Board is to make unbiased recommendations to protect and benefit the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.
A new crab processing license in St. Mary’s Bay is welcomed news to the region and is an important first step in addressing issues in the province’s snow crab industry. However, with a cap of 2.5 million pounds, the new license does very little to make a difference that will be felt by other areas of the province. An additional 1 million pounds has been issued to Dandy Dan’s Seafoods, meaning Minister Bragg’s decision today reallocates a maximum total of 3.5 million pounds of snow crab, a mere 3.1% of the total catch for Newfoundland and Labrador. Approximately 112 million pounds of snow crab is set to be landed during the 2022 season, about 60 million pounds more than three years ago.
“Today’s decision comes at a point in the season where fish harvesters and communities have already lost out and will do very little to ease the burden felt by the inshore fishery. Minister Bragg’s refusal to accept the Board’s recommendation to approve two additional processing licenses is entirely unjustified, showing his blatant refusal to address the severe shortage of corporate competition in the industry,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “It’s a hard fact that crab processing plants in our province do not have the capacity to meet current supply. In addition to the dangerous and unfair trip limits and scheduling forcing harvesters to tie on for weeks, plant workers are being worked to the bone,” adds Sullivan.
FFAW-Unifor has asked Minister Bragg, and the many ministers before him, to improve transparency and competition in the industry. Additional seafood processing licenses will not remove or displace existing jobs in the province, despite management-led tactics to influence precarious workers into believing otherwise.
“Minister Bragg has shown time and time again he is not the Minister of Fisheries but the Minister of Fish Processing Companies. By blocking all attempts to improve fairness in the processing industry, Bragg is blocking the people of Newfoundland and Labrador from getting the maximum economic benefit from our resources. We expect a timely meeting with the Minister to ensure there is a clear path to addressing these issues before another season has come and gone,” concludes Sullivan.
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