FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sept. 21st, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the actions of a Cox’s Cove fisherman this week in trucking cod fillet to Quebec and selling it for a profit boosts the argument for the province to allow in outside buyers.
“Inshore harvesters aren’t making the money they should be making because free enterprise doesn’t exist for them,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “Canadians are willing to pay good money for our cod, better money than local processors are paying, and harvesters are missing out. That must end.”
Fisherman Rick Crane from Cox’s Cove on Newfoundland’s west coast trucked 2,619 pounds of frozen cod fillet across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to a Quebec community, where the fish sold out on Tuesday evening in less than an hour.
Crane, well-known for his appearances on Cold Water Cowboys, says there were hundreds of people in line for fish, and he could have sold whatever cod he had. He prefers not to reveal the name of the Quebec community, to protect his market, and won’t say how much he sold the cod for.
But Crane made a healthy profit, and strengthened the argument for the Newfoundland and Labrador government to open the provincial market to outside buyers — which FISH-NL has called for since 2016.
“It needs to be done,” said Crane. “Why can’t fishermen put more money in their pockets instead of more money for the buyers?”
The cod fillet that Crane sold came from Newfoundland's northeast coast, where harvesters have had trouble selling their cod for much of August, because plants — which were tied up processing other species such as caplin — weren’t buying.
The fall price of northern cod caught off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and Labrador ranges between 83 cents (grade A), and 20 cents (grade C). The 2017 average provincial price is 60 cents a pound.
FISH-NL first asked the Fisheries Department in December, 2016 to lift all restrictions and allow out-of-province buyers into the provincial marketplace 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 fish harvesters. At worst, it would keep local buyers honest.
The province has refused to allow in outside buyers, siding with the FFAW-Unifor’s position that the market remain closed.