Talent Canada
Talent Canada

News Labour Relations
Harvesters refusing to fish crab in Newfoundland and Labrador, saying price too low

April 9, 2024
The Canadian Press

The union representing inshore fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador says their members are refusing to catch crab because the prices offered to them at the wharf are too low to make a living. Fish harvesters and their supporters protest outside the Confederation Building in St. John's on Thursday, March 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Crab fishing season has opened in most of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the union representing inshore harvesters says its members have left their boats tied up at the wharf.

In a news release Monday, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union said the prices fishers will be offered for their crab this year are too low to make a living. The union said the mechanism used to set those prices favours seafood processors, and puts harvesters at a disadvantage.

“Our negotiating committee is resolute: we will not fish for anything less than our fair share,” the release said.

The prices paid to fishers for their catch is set by a government-appointed panel, which hears submissions from fish harvesters and seafood processors. The panel announced April 1 that fishers would be paid a starting rate of $2.60 per pound this season, which began Saturday. That price was set by a formula proposed by the Association of Seafood Producers.


By comparison, prices in 2022 averaged about $6.87 per pound.

Last year, the panel set opening prices at $2.20 per pound, and harvesters refused to fish for nearly six weeks after the season opened.  The strike prompted the provincial government to assemble a team to examine how the panel arrives at its prices.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union said the team had proposed a formula that would give harvesters a fairer share of the crab market. However, it said, this year’s price-setting panel ignored that formula and went with one proposed by the Association of Seafood Producers instead.

“ASP’s formula was not designed to bring stability to the industry, it was designed to put money in their pockets,” the union’s news release said.

The association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The latest turmoil in the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries comes after protesting harvesters shut down the provincial legislature last month, preventing the Liberal government from delivering its budget.

Snow crab has been one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most valuable seafood exports, accounting for $883 million of the $1.6 billion generated by the province’s fisheries in 2021.

Print this page


Stories continue below