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Harvesters Discuss Plans for Snow Crab, No Fishery at 2.20

April 8, 2023

Leadership from around the province met virtually for nearly three hours this morning to discuss the crisis facing the snow crab fishery and determine next steps. On the call were the Inshore Council and Crab Chairs with representation from every area of the province having the opportunity to provide input.

Harvesters were once again united in their decision to not pursue a fishery at the price of $2.20 per pound, making it very clear that vessels big and small face certain economic disaster at this price. Harvesters also reiterated the validity of their Negotiating Committee’s initial final position to the Panel of $3.53 being a price that would make enterprises financially viable. Considering the rising costs of fuel and bait, even harvesters with little or no business debt to service expect to be fishing at a loss with a price of 2.20.

“The price selected by the Panel is an economic bombshell to the province, and the effects of this will be felt further than those who own an enterprise or work on a crab boat or in processing plants,” warns Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. “The snow crab fishery is the most important fishery in our province, and our members know very well the value it brings to their communities. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to protect that value and what it means to rural and coastal sustainability,” Pretty says.

“It’s better to go bankrupt tied to the wharf, than it is to pursue this fishery at a potential loss,” one harvester noted on the call.

Harvesters have asked for meetings with Premier Furey and the provincial fisheries minister, Derrick Bragg, to discuss how they plan to help. “We need to sit down with the province and our harvesting leadership to re-examine how we got here and look at ways to ensure the crab fishery is prosecuted in an orderly fashion,” Pretty says.

Once again, harvesters reiterated their concerns surrounding the import of out-of-province crab for processing and urged companies to reconsider any actions that will further provoke harvesters whose livelihoods are in a precarious state.

“This is not a strike. The price of 2.20 is so far removed from the reality of markets and of fishing, that it is entirely untenable. There are no economic arguments that can be made to pursue a fishery at this price, and we’re gravely concerned about the long-term implications on this vital industry,” Pretty says.

Additionally, the Union has sent requests for meetings with the federal government to provide emergency supports for harvesters and plant workers who will experience delays this year.

The Union will be planning further political action pending the outcome of meetings with provincial and federal officials in the coming days.