FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, April 30th, 2018
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on the FFAW-Unifor to appeal the price of snow crab set in early April by the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel.
“Why isn’t the FFAW-Unifor fighting for inshore crab harvesters?” questions Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “The $4.55 a pound price set for snow crab in this province is well below the $5 a pound offered in the Maritimes, and the $8 a pound wholesale price that Japanese buyers were reportedly lining up to pay earlier this month.”
Inshore harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador do not have the right to strike. Instead, when there’s a dispute over fish prices it’s referred to the provincially legislated Fish Price Setting Panel.
In the case of snow crab, the FFAW-Unifor went to the panel with a final price per pound of $4.80, while the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), representing the processors that handle the most snow crab in the province, had a final figure of $4.55.
The panel could only choose one price or the other, and went with the lower price of $4.55 — a decision that shocked harvesters and processors alike.
Under the province’s Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act, the decision of the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel can be appealed to the panel itself, but the request for appeal must come from either the FFAW-Unifor or ASP.
“If everyone knows that harvesters are being short charged on the 2018 price of snow crab, why isn’t anything being done about it?” questions Cleary, adding if a higher price is set through the appeal process it should be retroactive to April 4th when the panel made its initial decision.
The 2018 total allowable catch (TAC) for Newfoundland and Labrador’s snow crab fishery was set at 28,975 tonnes, a 17 per cent decrease from last year. That drop in TAC was expected to be offset by higher prices, which harvesters are desperate for in light of the decline in other fisheries such as shrimp and cod.