They won't fish

FFAW members agree to tie on to push for higher crab prices

Shawn Hayward
Published on April 4, 2013

Members of the Fish, Foods, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) prepare for their meeting in Clarenville on April 4. The fishers vowed not to fish until processors offer a better price for crab.

Shawn Hayward photo

Members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union (FFAW) won’t fish until processers offer them a better price for crab.

The fishing union held a short-notice meeting that filled the Clarenville Events Centre theatre and spilled out into the hallway today. FFAW president Earl McCurdy says support for a boat tie up was strong among the 400-plus crowd.

“It was very clear at the meeting people aren’t going fishing at those prices,” he says. “It couldn’t be more clear. People are fed up of being treated like that, to be led down the garden path all winter and have the rug pulled out from under them now, without fighting back.”

A government-appointed panel determines the price of the various species after hearing recommendations from both the FFAW and the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP). This year ASP first asked for a crab price of $1.55 per pound, and the union offered $2.15.

In the second round of negotiations ASP raised its offer to $1.83, FFAW reduced its offer to $2, and the panel chose the ASP offer, a dip from $1.95 last year and $2.15 in 2011.

McCurdy says the fishers were expecting a higher price this year based on what processing companies were indicating over the winter, and many invested in larger quotas to take advantage of the expected price increase.

“I can’t recall seeing it this extreme where so many companies that don’t normally operate like that were out projecting really good prices," he says. ”We were bombarded with calls from harvesters saying we aren’t going fishing for that price.”

McCurdy says he hopes the tie up will get processors back at the table offering a higher price than $1.83 per pound.

“We’ll notify the companies of what transpired and that we’ll negotiate. It makes sense for them to come back and work something out so we can get the fishery started,” he says.