There was a sense of positivity of some recovery in the fishery of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in 2011 as the announcement of crab prices were to start at $2.35 with no dispute among parties, when last season the processors were disputing the $1.35 per pound price set by the pricing panel. A Federal memo of a cut of 40 percent in the inshore shrimp fishery is unacceptable. Provincial Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman has stated the cuts to the quota should be much less (~10-15%). Some good news in this story is that the prices are up significantly for shrimp and fishers are out on the water working hard to earn a living.
The Price Setting Panel announced the lobster price would be $4.26 per pound for the week of April 17 and $4.23 per pound for the week of April 23,2011. This created a dispute among processors, claiming they could not afford to purchase at this rate.
The buyers in this situation have the upper hand, as the lobster season is quite short. The buyers continued to stall purchasing. The Fisheries Union placed pressure on Government to allow outside buyers. Fishermen should get the highest possible price for the commodity of lobster. We certainly do not have a free market as it stands today and our lobster fishers continue to pay the price. Minister Jackman noted that opening up the province to free market could not happen overnight, that plant workers may be impacted and what that could mean for other fish species – if such a precendent is set. I am unsure how much employment is created in this province due to processing of lobster, but would like to find out. It appears primarily there is the middleman or lobster buyer that gets a cut to sell from the wharf or ship to market.
It is in the interest of the buyers to ensure they reap maximum profits for themselves and their shareholders. It has been the practise of for-profit enterprises since the beginning of time. However, they have an unfair advantage over small fishing enterprises.
The Price Setting Panel set a fair price at $4.26. However, without Government intervening to allow outside buyers the bargaining power of the fishermen and their Union was weak. The fishermen went to the waters on opening day without having any buyer. This shows their dedication to their profession. However, lobster can only last so long crated on the water and fisherman can only absorb operating costs and no income for only so long. I can only imagine that this would be the case for many people, that they could only live and provide for their families for a short-term without getting further in debt. The parties agreed upon a price of $3.65 per pound with a review each week that could see increases based on market conditions.
I am outraged that fishermen are only receiving $3.65 per pound for this gourmet product. Economic conditions are much more encouraging than in 2008 when the price bottomed at $3.00-$3.25 per pound. Operating costs are increasing and fishers are unable to earn a living wage when they are being royally ripped off for their product by a whopping $0.60 per pound from the start. CBC.ca reported that 6 million pounds of lobster is caught in our beautiful province, which means $3.6 million dollars (6 million pounds *$0.60/pound) is being removed from the fishers, which would be of great benefit to the families of fishers and help sustain rural economies.
Naugle said Wednesday he was selling the first lobsters of the season at a price of $5.99 per pound, for lobsters between one and 1.4 pounds. Lobsters between 1.45 and 3.25 pounds were being sold for $6.49 per pound. (Full story here)
Prices paid to the lobster harvester in Newfoundland & Labrador are being kept artificially too low, in my opinion. The FFAW has a chart listing price for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI from January-April, which show a price between $4-5.00 per pound (Full Details Click Here).
Action must be taken to ensure an environment is created to give the fishermen more bargaining power to obtain the fair price for their product. This may require greater attention from the Fisheries Union to focus on the small boat fisher, the Provincial Government to review its own Fisheries Act, dialogue with the Federal Department of Fisheries and a change in business operations or concessions for lobster buyers in the province. Change is needed in how we operate our Provincial fishery.
Why is our system set up that in the end the buyer sets the price, despite parties agreeing to a Price Setting Panel? The fishermen have the product and they should determine the price – if the buyers are unwilling then they should be able to look elsewhere. This is simple business. I would be happy to buy lobster from the fishers for $4.26 or more per pound.
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
- Change needed in how we run the fishery in Canada… (liveruralnl.com)
- N.L. fishermen, buyers agree on lobster prices (ctv.ca)
- P.E.I. lobster fishermen wait for price set (cbc.ca)
- Lobster deal reached (cbc.ca)
It is upsetting to read headlines on the CBC – Lobster prices two dear: processors. The pricing panel set the starting price at $4.26 per pound, which processors say they will not buy and will lose money. It was only last season this same group of processors could not afford to buy crab at $1.35 per pound set by the pricing panel. Fogo Island Co-op was the only company willing, and they got dispelled from the association. Yet in Nova Scotia crab could be purchased at $1.85 per pound.
Is it our closed marketplace? The few processors have a monopoly? Should we look at changing the legislation? Having a free market and allowing outside buyers?
Lobster is a delicacy and no harvester can continue to make a living at the low price of $3.00 or $3.25 per pound, especially with escalating operating costs. My father was a small boat fisher, catching lobster. The price 15 years ago was higher than what it has been in recent seasons.
I remember passing the seafood section in London, England in 2007. The price of lobster fo 16.00 GBP or about $34.00 CDN. I purchased a lobster tail on a beach stand for $9.00 CDN. If you go fine dining lobster ranks up there with the fine cuts of beef.
Why have we devalued the lobster? Are we failing to market our quality products and getting into more value-added? And why are we unable to pay the harvester a fair price? Something has to be done to ensure more certainly and better management of the fishery. Hon. Clyde Jackman, Fisheries Minister for the Province needs to work with newly elected Federal counterparts and all stakeholders.
The fishery continues to be the backbone of the rural economy. We must implement corrective measures to ensure that our rural communities can continue to remain sustainable. The amount of dollars may be small to many of these larger producers but every cut to fish species and reduction of price has resonating impacts to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador economies.
Together we can make great change for brighter tomorrows.
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
Newfoundland & Labrador, one of the first places discovered in the New World, boasts a rich history. St. John’s is considered to be the oldest city in English-speaking North America. With Cupids, being the oldest English Colony in North America, celebrating 400 years in 2010.
I’ve received this in an email forward and felt compelled to share. Here are some interesting facts about Newfoundland & Labrador…
The first province to Respond to Titanic distress signal.
The first to vaccinate for smallpox.
The first host a trans-Atlantic flight.
The first to have a wireless communication in the world.
The first place to discover proof of the theory of continental drift.
The oldest street in North America.
The oldest city in North America.
The oldest rock in the world.
The oldest continuous sporting event ( Regatta Day rules! )
The largest university in Atlantic Canada.
The most pubs rep square foot in Canada ( George Street in St. John’s)
The longest running radio program in North America.
Caught the world’s largest invertebrate ( giant squid )
The finest people in Canada ( ask anybody )
The Sexiest people in Canada ( MacLean’s magazine survey )
The only Province that has four identifiable flags.
The only Province to be able to land the Space-Shuttle ( Stephenville )
The most giving people in Canada ( Stats Canada )
The most sexually active people in Canada.
build the world’s first artificial ice arena.
invented the gas mask
was once governor of northern Rhodesia
was with Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
WE ARE THE ONLY PROVINCE TO HAVE…
it’s own “encyclopedia”
it’s own “dictionary”
is own “pony”
it’s own “dog”
Our beautiful province is unique, as with any place. The dynamic people that live and populate this island enhance the natural beauty and add to the extensive culture, heritage that has been in existence for more than 5,000 years.
Think about where you live and consider some of the interesting facts and reasons you choose to live and experience your province, state or country.
Live Rural NL – CCM