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Crab prices: concerns and hope for fishermen

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar25,2024

Crab prices: concerns and hope for fishermen

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Snow crab fishing began on Sunday in area 17.

  • Michaële Perron-Langlais (View profile)Michaële Perron-Langlais

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As the snow crab fishing season begins in the St. Lawrence Estuary, the question of the price of the popular crustacean is on many lips. After a “catastrophic” year for some in 2023, fishermen went to sea on Sunday with the hope of seeing the situation improve in the weeks to come.

Last year, the price of snow crab fell dramatically (New window), going from $14 per kilo in 2022 to $5 per kilo in the 2023 season, according to data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada compiled by the Institute for Research in Contemporary Economy (IRÉC).

Almost no one has been able to cover their costs, says fisherman Ian Chouinard. It's been a catastrophic year.

Even if he expects to receive roughly the same amount on landing as last year at the start of season, the Rimouski fisherman indicates that he and his fellow crabbers expect to see prices increase in the coming weeks.

Compared to last year, what I see is that there is hope for an upward price adjustment, says the president of the Association of snow crab fishermen from zone 17, Marc Doucet.

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Sunday morning, the Rimouski fishermen decided to delay their departure at sea for a few hours due to weather conditions.

Last year was a year of transition, I think, adds Ian Chouinard. This year, we started with the same base price, but we see that there could be adjustments along the way.

Mr. Chouinard points out that fishermen have little power over the price they get from processors for their catch. We are really dependent on factories. We will be paid the price that the factories are able to sell them.

IRÉC researcher Gabriel Bourgault-Faucher, who published on Monday a fact sheet on the price of snow crab in Quebec and the outlook for the year 2024, points out that the Quebec snow crab market strongly depends on what happens. passes to the United States, where 93% of crustacean exports are sent.

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The researcher, a specialist in fisheries economics and the marketing of aquatic products, emphasizes that two factors are mainly attributed to the fall in the price of crab at landing between 2022 and 2023.

First of all, he recalls that Russia is an important player in the global crab market, and that the start of the war in Ukraine, in 2022, is an essential element to explain the situation.

Before the entry into force of embargoes in the United States on Russian imports, at the start of the 2022 season, there were heavy imports of Russian crabs into the United States which saturated the markets, says Gabriel Bourgault-Faucher .

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The landed price of snow crab should be around $5 per kilo at the start of the season. (File photo)

In 2022, crab processors were stuck with large crab inventories that they dragged into 2023 . In 2023, when the fishing season started, the warehouses were already full.

Alongside this supply glut, demand for snow crab has declined due to inflation and consumers' loss of purchasing power.

As for how prices could evolve in the coming days, Gabriel Bourgault-Faucher remains cautious. We would like to know what will happen during the season, but we cannot predict it, he concludes.

  • Michaële Perron-Langlais (View profile)Michaële Perron-LanglaisFollow
Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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