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Snow Crab Update – April 21, 2023

April 21, 2023

FFAW-Unifor held two important meetings today: first with the federal government on employment insurance followed by a 3.5-hour call with the Inshore Council and Crab Chairs. During the second meeting, FFAW-Unifor received a letter from the provincial government urging the parties back into discussions.

Most importantly, all Inshore Council members and Crab Chairs have agreed that the fishery cannot proceed at the unviable price of $2.20. In addition, the vast majority recognize that it will almost definitely be a few weeks to determine if the situation will improve. The possibility of a lost season was also discussed, an outcome no one wants.

The FFAW continues to press the provincial government on the importance of ensuring harvesters are given a fair market share of prices – something that a formula could achieve. The current system of price setting and processing licensing and regulation is to the detriment of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Today’s letter addressed to FFAW and ASP from Minister Bragg was the first official acknowledgment of the current crisis and it is not enough.

The provincial government made commitments to improve the Price Setting Panel process this year after the upheaval in the 2022 fishery and the resulting Conway Report. Unfortunately, fish harvesters feel the opposite is happening.

Union staff will begin phone calls on Monday morning to reach snow crab harvesters for direct consultation on the issue.

FFAW met with Minister Qualtrough’s office this afternoon as well, where we had the opportunity discuss the Union’s request for a 10-week employment insurance extension. The Minister’s Office was receptive to concerns – being that the economic impacts of this season will rival that of the cod moratorium and our members need emergency help to get through the coming weeks and months. Harvesters and plant workers are in need of an urgent extension while issues surrounding crab and ice resolve. We expect an update from the Minister next week on possible solutions given the government’s current antiquated EI system.

The market is being continually evaluated and analyzed. Any significant changes will be shared when available.