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Lump Rebate Increases Price by 300%

November 17, 2019

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2020 edition of the Union Forum magazine.

Lump Rebate Increases Price by 300%

Lumpfish, also known as lumpsuckers, are harvested for their roe – a delicacy in Europe that is less expensive than other caviars. The international competition for lumpfish harvesting is tough, the market in Europe is limited, and the timing of seasons makes it particularly difficult for Canada to compete since we are the last to fish.

While the lump fishery has seen lower landings in recent years, for many it is still an important fishery for the viability of their enterprises. This is especially the case for 4R harvesters on the tip of the northern peninsula from Savage Cove to Noddy Bay.

“Unlike areas on both sides of us, the vast majority of harvesters here don’t have access to lobster or snow crab, so lump has been one of, if not the, most important fishery,” says Carl Hedderson, Inshore Council member representing Barr’d Harbour to Noddy Bay and L’Anse au Clair to Red Bay.

Given the market and the timing of the NL fishery, the market for lump can be difficult to predict. The NL fishery is the last to occur among major lump producers and as a result, NL harvesters are at the mercy of the market already established by its European counterparts. Oversupply in Europe meant a lower price for harvesters in the province and as a result few were participating in the fishery.

However, the market for lump roe has increased significantly for harvesters in our province compared to previous years. The oversupply in the European market has declined, making lump roe harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador much more desirable.

While late ice conditions hampered the start of the fishery, harvesters still managed to have a successful season with the limited time they had. What made their season even more worthwhile was the rebate paid at the end of the season.

The base price for lump roe was set at $1.50 per pound which is paid upon landing, however the rebate is calculated later in the season based on market prices. The initial price – this year $1.50 – applied up to a market price of $900 CAD on the European market. For everything above $900, the price to harvesters increased by 1 cent for each $4.00 increase in the market price. For example, a market price of $1,100 would provide a rebate of $2.00 per pound to harvesters.

This year’s rebate turned out to be $3.01 per pound, meaning harvesters earned a total price of $4.51 – a significant increase and great news for lump harvesters.

Roger Woodward from North Boat Harbour, one of the three fishing enterprises in the Woodward family, called his staff representative Jason Spingle about a week before the bonus was released. “To be honest, we needed a good bonus this year given the lower gulf cod quota and some bad luck with our herring traps,” said Roger.

“It’s always great to call members with positive news, especially in a situation like this,” said Spingle.

The market outlook for lump remains positive and processors are encouraging more harvesters to participate in the lump roe fishery next year.