Shrimp harvesters get price they asked for - but still won't fish

James McLeod
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Derek Butler — File photo

Fishermen got the price they asked for, but on the Northern Peninsula, they're refusing to fish for shrimp anyway.

When the provincial government price setting panel got down to setting a price for shrimp this summer, it heard seafood processors said they couldn't pay more than 55 cents per pound, and the FFAW said its members couldn't possibly fish for less than 60 cents a pound.

In the end, the panel sided with the fishermen.

"After a full consideration of the factors outlined above, the panel is of the considered view that while it acknowledges the current market situation can probably be best described as tenuous, the continued reduction of the raw material price to the 60 cents per pound level should enable the product to move in the traditional markets, particularly the U.K., the most important market for N.L. shrimp," panelists Joe O'Neill and Max Short wrote in their decision.

But Karl Sullivan, vice-president of the Barry Group, said fishermen on the Northern Peninsula are refusing to fish anyway, unless they get 65 cents per pound.

"There are very few boats fishing," Sullivan said. "The folks up there are asking for a higher price, despite the fact that the panel, in a majority decision, ruled in their favour."

The Telegram was unable to reach FFAW president Earle McCurdy for comment.

But Association of Seafood Producers executive director Derek Butler said the current situation is bad enough that it warrants an industrial inquiry into the whole mess of price setting in the fishery.

Processors have never been very fond of the price-setting panel, and Butler said this is just another example of its flaws.

"The model has lent itself to supporting shutdowns, strikes and lockouts," he said. "Clearly we need a new model. I mean, I don't think it's a stretch to say we need an industrial inquiry into the fishery."

Butler said there are four fish plants that won't be able to operate on the Northern Peninsula if the fight continues.

He said this sort of thing just doesn't happen other places; the province doesn't need a price-setting panel.

"I think you can have fisheries operate without this kind of intervention," he said.

"That's the case in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Quebec, New Brunswick, British Colombia and practically all of our competitors." Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Barry Group, Association of Seafood Producers

Geographic location: Northern Peninsula, Nova Scotia, Quebec New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Greg
    July 01, 2013 - 19:57

    To "ME" If the free-market doesn't work in "practice," then perhaps the fishing industry in Newfoundland is untenable. If businesses need help from the government to keep their costs down, they are not being run properly or are in an untenable market. It's business, it's up to the entrepreneur to find ways to be successful. This is how it works in every other part of the world, yet Newfoundland doesn't seem to get it. They think the government needs to make businesses successful. The government can't even run itself, let alone other businesses. I believe the EU was looking to buy product from Newfoundland, but instead of dropping this stupid processing rule and letting the the largest combined economy in the world put an offer on the table (which would have been a lot more than what the "price-setting panel" is giving), Kathy Dunderdale decided to "stick it to the man" and all you fools supported her in doing so.

  • Jeff Holden
    July 01, 2013 - 15:46

    I am a buyer of shrimp and and am interested in the size of the shrimp that you are catching. Could some one tell me what size the in shell shrimp is?

  • me
    July 01, 2013 - 11:39

    just a note togreg,i beg todiffer on the opinion that prices are set to create employment. Businesses need to survive after costs and if you land a lot of product, you end up with quality suffering . We harvest in summer and seafood and heat dont go wel together. AS for buyers from outside the province paying moreand thus creating more jobs and giving fishers more money is the kind of stuff that looks good on paper but in the real world, it just words on paper. Those working in the fishing industry can tell you it doesnt work that way

    July 01, 2013 - 07:59

    The price set by the panel is the minimum ex-vessel price at which product changes hands from harvester to processor. It neither compels the harvester to fish, nor the processor to buy, should one or both conclude it is not in its economic interest to do so. This is not the first occasion on which members of one or both groups concluded they could not operate on a profitable basis. That's down to a complex set of market and operating cost factors that are beyond the control of either. The elimination of the price setting panel, as argued by Mr. Butler, will not change that. What it would do is set harvester against harvester as processors orchestrate a race to the bottom that might serve their short-term goals but leave the industry in complete disarray in the long term. In short, the processors will never be happy until they have succeeded in squeezing out the independent harvester in favour of a fisheries model in which the processors own and control the harvesting effort.

  • Greg
    June 30, 2013 - 18:08

    Clearly there is no need for a price-setting panel, in fact, it HURTS the economy. Who cares if it helps keep a few 14-week jobs in these dying outport communities? If you had buyers from outside the province competing for this resource, they'd be paying a lot more for it. The more money coming into the province, the more jobs there will be. It's that simple. Fisherman would have more money and would be buying new vehicles, new boats, new gear, taking their families out to eat, spending spending spending, all that would lead to more jobs... full-time, year-round jobs too, not these 14-week jobs that leave Newfoundland dependent on the Federal EI program.