Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

A new conflict on the crab prices on the horizon

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Crab fishermen describe the price offered by the industry as “derisory”.

  • Alban Normandin (View profile)Alban Normandin

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While the Quebec Association of the fishing industry (AQIP) expects to propose a price of $2.50 per pound for snow crab, fishermen in zone 16 on the North Shore judge that the price proposed by the industry is derisory, and this a few days before the start of the fishing season.

At less than 3 dollars, this is completely ridiculous. But at 2.50, it's really trying to laugh fishermen in the face, denounces the general director of the Office of snow crab fishermen in zone 16, Jean-René Boucher.

The conflict over the price of crab risks resuming again between fishermen and processors on the North Shore.

The fishing season should begin on April 1 .

While the processing industry is having difficulty with the federal government's decision to impose a visa for temporary foreign workers, snow crab fishermen in zone 16 intend to remain firm with the industry and demand a price at -beyond $2.50 per pound.

According to Jean-René Boucher, last year, a very large part of the crab fishermen in the area found themselves in a financial deficit, due to a crab price set too low by the industry.

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The Director General of the Zone 16 Snow Crab Fishermen's Office , Jean-René Boucher

Moreover, the price of crab for the year 2023 is still the subject of negotiations between AQIP and the Fishermen's Office.

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I will admit that at this price, there are several fishermen who will ask themselves the question of whether they set sail or not.

A quote from Jean-René Boucher, general director of the Zone 16 Snow Crab Fishermen's Office

In 2022, processing plants lost a lot of money, because we paid too much for crab for the market, replies the general director of the Quebec Fishing Industry Association, Jean-Paul Gagné. The price must be conditioned by the market.

Mr. Gagné assures that the price of $2.50 per pound of crab, proposed by the industry, is only an advance price which will be adjusted as the market price increases.

According to him, a high price fixed in advance would not be profitable for the industry which would be at risk of ending up with a profit margin that was too low .

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Jean-Paul Gagné, director of the Quebec Association of Fishing Industrialists (Archive photo)

We are not here to make fishermen suffer, but we want it to be win-win, adds the one who represents the fishing products processing plants.

For its part, the Fishermen's Office says it has carried out a market assessment and considers that fishermen could ask for a starting price of $3.15 for crabs that they will fish during the coming weeks.

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Snow crab fishing quotas in Area 16 increased by 15% in 2022 and 2023. (Archive photo)

The two parties will meet in the coming days to develop a marketing agreement.

An agreement is possible, but AQIP will have to make offers that take into account the reality of fishermen, maintains Jean-René Boucher.

Despite the he uncertainty surrounding labor and the price of a pound of crab, the announcement by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to increase fishing quotas in Area 16 by 20% is welcomed by fishermen in the region.

Steve Noël, a crab fisherman since the 1980s, says he is pleased to see quotas increase, but the uncertainty surrounding the price set by the industry remains an important issue for him and his crew.

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Snow crab fisherman Steve Noël and other members of his crew

The Director General of the Zone 16 Snow Crab Fishermen's Office shares Mr. Noel's opinion, and adds that the announcement is very well received by fishermen.

Fishing quotas increased by 15% in 2022 and 2023 after three consecutive declines from 2019 to 2021.

With information from Charles-Étienne Drouin

Increase in the snow crab quota in zone 17

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