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."
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