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April 24, 2023

The Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) held a ‘technical briefing’ this morning in St. John’s announcing their desire for a crab fishery to urgently start at the minimum price of 2.20 per pound. The price represents a 60% drop from last year’s average price and a decline in market share from 48% to 28% at the time of the price decision.  Harvesters feel strongly that the price of 2.20 is not viable for their businesses to break even given the significant increase in other costs associated with running an enterprise.

“On Friday’s call, harvesters from all over the province indicated that they were not able to fish at the 2.20 price. Today’s intimidation tactics by ASP do not change that,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “The companies completely misjudged the market for two years in a row now, they got greedy, they got us into this mess, and now they want rural Newfoundland and Labrador to pay the consequences. Companies are far more concerned with losing their place in the market than they are about protecting jobs and communities,” he says.

ASP’s message in itself is contradictory, says Pretty. “In one breath they say the markets are shot and they have nowhere to sell the crab, and in the next they say they need a fishery right now. It’s a good position for harvesters to be in,” he explains.

“Just two weeks after harvesters decided 2.20 was an inviable price for a fishery to proceed, the merchants are getting desperate for folks to break ranks and deliver on cheap crab,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “Important price updates will come from Urner Barry on Tuesday and Thursday of this week, so we’re asking all our member to sit tight for the next few days. On Wednesday we’ll touch base with the Inshore Council and crab chairs, and on Friday morning this group will do a thorough assessment of the most up-to-date market information and provide a further update to all members,” Pretty says. “With fresh crab starting to enter the market from the gulf, it’s possible we may an upswing in market prices,” he says.

All snow crab license holders will be directly consulted by the Union this week via telephone.

FFAW has been asking ASP for a meeting to discuss a possible way forward for this year’s fishery. With 17,000 jobs on the line, it’s imperative that the industry be protected. The Union also continues to press the federal government on the importance of getting benefits extended for harvesters and plant workers affected by the situation.

More information will be provided as available.