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Panel Decision on Crab Signals Economic Crisis for NL

April 6, 2023

The Standing Fish Price Setting Panel announced their decision on the price of snow crab for the start of the 2023 fishing season, selecting the Association of Seafood Producer’s (ASP) second price submission of $2.20, over the Negotiating Committee’s price of $3.10. Crab Committees throughout the province have made the unanimous decision to not fish at the unsustainable price and will review this position in the coming weeks.

“The Panel’s decision today has put our industry in the most precarious situation it’s ever been in. The Final Offer Selection (FOS) process has completely lost its way when bottom of the barrel prices are being selected without absolutely any merit,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “People can’t fish at 2.20. They can’t hire crew, they can’t generate enough to pay business loans, insurance, purchase fuel or bait, and still break even at the end of the day. When it comes to dollars and cents, this catastrophe rivals the cod moratorium. It’s absolutely remarkable that the largest crab fishery in the world can induce poverty right across our province in the blink of an eye,” Pretty says.

Initial price offers were submitted on Friday, March 31, however parties were sent back prior to arguments and instructed to submitted new price offers later that same night. The Negotiating Committee’s initial price was $3.48, and second offer was $3.10. ASP’s first offer was $2.18, followed by a second offer of $2.20. Market conditions, international politics, and current storage reserves and have all contributed to the impact on prices this year.

“The Negotiating Committee felt it was important to show good faith bargaining with the second price offer, so the fact that ASP’s second offer hardly budged while our Committee made meaningful movement, is a second kick in the gut to harvesters who put their faith, and their future, into the hands of this process,” says Pretty.

“In choosing ASP’s offer, the province has passed $108 million dollars from communities to processing companies. The entire downturn in the market is being shouldered by fish harvesters while the companies, as always, escape unscathed,” says Pretty.

“We’re sending off an urgent request to meet with Premier Furey because this is a provincial problem that’s going to need some real solutions,” Pretty says. “Our Union is also solidifying plans for further political action, because this decision today just highlights how broken our system is. Companies will survive this year and in a few years, this will be nothing but a distant memory. But hundreds of enterprises will not survive this year. There will be bankruptcies and there will be thousands of people out of work,” he warns.

FFAW-Unifor will be meeting with all Crab Committees throughout the province to review the ongoing situation and further updates will be provided to members as available.


Click here for the full Panel decision.
Click here from a letter of dessent from Panel member Earle McCurdy.