Jeff Loder, Executive Director – Statement to Media
May 2, 2023
On Monday, April 24th, the Association of Seafood Producers provided an update on the status of the 2023 snow crab fishery and outlined its position moving forward. This position has not changed, and producers are fully united.
The minimum price of $2.20 will remain until such a time it is changed by the price-setting Panel.
I would like to reiterate that every day that goes by is another day of lost opportunity, compounding the competitive position of harvesters, plant workers and producers, to extract value from the crab fishery.
We know this is an uneasy time for harvesters in the snow crab fishery, and to demonstrate our sincerity to the FFAW and its members, we provided written confirmation to the FFAW that ASP would not seek a reconsideration on the price of snow crab for at least 21 days, effective Friday, April 28. As part of this conversation, we also requested that both parties work together to ensure an orderly and fair fishery that maximizes the value of the crab products produced in this province. ASP stands by the commitment.
Any decision regarding the use of ASP’s reconsideration for snow crab will be based on sound reasoning, regarding where the market is moving and how that intersects with plant operations and business realities of the sector.
As we’ve stated previously, there are many factors that must be considered, which will always include our objective to create value, ensure safe and meaningful employment for our plant workers, and have a fishery that contributes to our local and national economies.
As of May 1, 2022, Newfoundland and Labrador had 31,609,768 pounds of snow crab landed. As of today, we have zero. The Gulf and the Maritimes have landed 45.9% and 21.5%, respectively at a $2.25 price.
The longer the fishery is delayed, the greater impact it has on the premium product NL seafood is known for. As the season progresses, the risk increases of exposure to softshell crab, briny tasting meat, and eventually new hardshell. We do not want NL product to be associated with inferior product versus the Maritimes and Gulf. Nor do producers want to curtail purchases due to these issues.
We have been informed that there are harvesters who want to begin fishing, however they have not begun for reasons that should cause Newfoundlanders and Labradorians great concern. Producers will always respect the decision of harvesters to not fish, a right enshrined in legislation, based on their individual business situation. Which is why when we hear those individual decisions are being impacted by fear, intimidation, and harassment, we feel an obligation to address the issue. These types of behaviours are not acceptable in 2023, we do not tolerate it in our schools, our workplaces, and it should not occur in the fishery.
There are 22 snow crab processing facilities that each employ between 150-650 seasonal workers from over 400 communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are also many associated businesses that rely on the fishery. Without this income, it leaves a huge economic gap in our rural communities.
The economic impact of the delay in the snow crab fishery is significant. Not only does it affect plant workers, but also graders, equipment, packaging, and delivery companies, as well as local convenience stores, grocers, and restaurants. The fishery is a catalyst for economic growth in which rural communities rely on. It’s the foundation of our culture and plays a significant role in tourism and often is what attracts people to our province. A place like no other.
It’s time to get the fishery started. There are too many livelihoods that depend on it.