FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, May 4th, 2018
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is reiterating its call for the provincial government to lift all restrictions and allow out-of-province buyers into the provincial marketplace in light of the shrimp fiasco on the Great Northern Peninsula.
“Inshore harvesters are blocked from earning the best possible price for their shrimp by a pricing system that doesn’t work for them,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “The situation is a mess, with harvesters warning of ‘war on the water,’ and it’s time for the province to get off its arse.”
Inshore harvesters on the Great Northern Peninsula are reporting catch rates of shrimp in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to be “as good as they’ve been in their lifetimes,” but an unfair price is keeping 8-10 boats in communities like Port aux Choix and Port Saunders tied to the wharf.
The FFAW-Unifor negotiated the price of shrimp with processors/buyers in this province in mid-April at $1.46 a pound.
But those same local processors/buyers (Quinlan’s, the Barry Group, and Ocean Choice International) are reportedly paying shrimp harvesters from New Brunswick and Quebec that land their product here up to $2.25 a pound.
At the same time, harvesters from the Great Northern Peninsula who are prepared to steam to New Brunswick are told they’ll be paid $1.85 a pound for their shrimp.
Then there’s the Fogo Island Co-op, which is prepared to pay harvesters more for their shrimp, but what’s happened in the past is once the other local buyers get wind of it, they increase their price and the Fogo Co-op is left out in the cold.
Well-known Anchor Point fisherman Roland Genge says the frustration could lead to “war on the water,” with harvesters stressed to the max.
FISH-NL takes the stand that the provincial government must lift all restrictions and allow out-of-province buyers into the provincial market place for all species.
An open and free market in the fishing industry would, at best, result in increased competition and more money in the pockets of inshore harvesters. At worst, it would keep local buyers honest.
FISH-NL presented a proposal on outside buyers to the provincial government in December 2016 following an intensive, province-wide consultation with thousands of fish harvesters, whose support for out-of-province buyers appeared unanimous.
To date, the Dwight Ball administration has refused to move on the proposal.