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Snow Crab Negotiations - Summary Note

April 30, 2020

The snow crab price negotiations concluded yesterday evening with a hearing in front of the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel. The offer to the Panel from FFAW was $3.50 per pound, while the offer from ASP was $2.90.

This is a challenging year to price snow crab, as the COVID-19 crisis is deeply affecting our most important markets. This year required a commitment to find a solution that fit the current challenge. There needed to be a new approach for pricing that allowed harvesters to strike a proper balance between assuming market risks and market growth.

Unfortunately, ASP were not willing to cooperate. Unlike other years, ASP refused to conduct formal negotiations with fish harvesters, and forwarded a token price offer of 1 cent. The attention needed to build a price system that is responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic was only be provided by FFAW.

Throughout this difficult time FFAW has kept health and safety as the most important consideration.  Secondly,  all FFAW committee members agreed that a system that is fair for all is important, in the case of crab pricing, a rebate to be paid after to season which was fair for all harvesters based on how the  market performed.  ASP even agreed the idea was appropriate in early discussions, but when it came time to negotiate, they would not talk to harvesters and instead attempted to use the crisis to get crab for rock-bottom prices.

Thus, the parties ended up in front of the Panel. The FFAW argument was based around facts, a real market analysis, and an attack on incorrect assumptions, such as the assertion that the crab yield is 62%. ASP submissions focused little on price, devoting more time to attacking the Union and harvesters for fighting back against attempts to undermine their ability to receive a fair price in 2020.  The decision must be based on real market information, which clearly supports the position of the FFAW.  ASP relied on the half truth that the Maritimes harvesters are only getting $3/lb,.  Some harvesters actually have a floor price of $3/lb, some higher and all with commitments to pay rebates.  Either way, those arrangements are not the basis for price setting for NL harvesters; the actual prices in the market are.

The Panel will now have to decide whether it will accept the FFAW offer of $3.50 or the ASP offer of $2.90. The Panel has to pick either one or the other. A price decision will be released by the end of the day on Friday.

Thank you to the snow crab negotiating committee for their hard work, ideas and commitment over the past month. This was a difficult task under difficult circumstances and you performed an outstanding service to your fellow harvesters.