(St. John’s) The Association of Seafood Producers says the shrimp fishery, on hiatus since May, appears to be on the cusp of starting up.
“In speaking with processors throughout the province, it has been clear that there is a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to the thousands of plant workers and harvesters who rely on the shrimp fishery to support their families and communities,” says Derek Butler, head of the Association of Seafood Producers in the province. “Despite the price challenges with shrimp, it is this commitment that is driving the opening of the fishery.”
The fishery has been delayed in recent weeks due to market challenges and pricing challenges represented by the FFAW price offer of $1.18 per pound being selected in price arbitration. A subsequent reconsideration hearing saw a price drop to $1.08, but shrimp producers in the province said that number represented – and still represents – a financial loss to companies.
“As I said a week or two ago, producers faced some very difficult decisions, and it was not clear what might transpire,” says Derek. He says there was some risk of the fishery not proceeding at all, but from his understanding one member already started and other companies will be starting in the coming days.
“Having a shrimp fishery this year represents a financial loss to companies, but having no fishery has serious implications as well, for communities, plant workers, harvesters, the companies and for everyone involved,” says Butler.
“At the current price, it is challenging to operate but when weighing the potential implications of not operating this year,” says Butler, “including the loss of market share which is extremely difficult to recover, we have to do what is right for all involved in the fishery – the workers, the harvesters, the communities and the customers.”
Butler says shrimp was in trouble before Covid-19 with high inventories and falling markets, which were compounded by the global pandemic. In the context of the financial risks, producers will be paying close attention to the various aspects of the fishery in an effort to reduce costs, such as landing sites, scheduling, etc.