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Snow Crab Update

May 6, 2020

Below is an update to members on two critical issues in the snow crab fishery.

 Snow Crab Market Considerations

As you know, last Friday the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel selected the ASP position of $2.90 per pound for snow crab. This was an unjustified decision not in line with the market or prices at the wharf in the Maritimes.

Throughout this week, new and important evidence on the market has emerged. First, we are aware that the prices are being paid in the Maritimes that are significantly higher than the $3.00 price that has been cited. This increased price is in addition to the rebate system that is in place.

Second, the price in the Maritimes for snow crab sales to the US market has not declined to the degree many had anticipated. This shows resiliency in the market.

Third, the Urner Barry Index, which is a strong indicator of market prices, just released new price quotes for the Maritimes. While the market is down from its historic high of February, the Urner Barry price quotes are in line with the market information we are receiving from sources in the Maritimes.

All these points are very important because they contradict the market conditions needed to justify the ASP price of $2.90. The current market supports a price to harvesters significantly above $2.90.

These market trends strongly support the argument in favour of a price reconsideration at the Panel.

A $2.90 minimum price is not economically sustainable for harvesters and needs to be replaced by something that is fair to harvesters. The challenge is that we only get one shot at a reconsideration. When we do file, we need the best case and the best evidence. We are gathering that evidence and building that case now.

FFAW strongly encourages all harvesters to check our website and Facebook page daily for updates on the market and a price reconsideration. With the fishing season due to start in a few days, please note than a new price decision does not retroactively apply to crab already landed.


Trip Limits

Trip limits are collectively bargained between FFAW and ASP. The current trip limits are contained in the Snow Crab schedule and are very specific about what limits can be applied at what time in the season.

We have been informed that processing companies are contacting harvesters and informing them that they will be put on trip limits that are lower than those in the schedule. Harvesters not previously subject to a trip limit are also being told that trip limits will be applied to them.

Please note: Processors cannot unilaterally change trip limits. That is a violation of the collective agreement. Trip limits have to be changed through collective bargaining, which ASP refuses to do.  


Keith Sullivan