A fresh lobster. (Photo: FFAW)
NL fishers and processors agree on lobster prices
Wednesday, May 09, 2012, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries union and seafood processors have agreed on lobster pricing for the remainder of this year’s season. This development puts an end to the standoff that had some fishers establish a co-op to sell lobster out of the province while cutting out the middleman.
"The amended formula effectively reduces raw material prices by CAD 0.10 (USD 0.10) to CAD 0.12 cents (USD 0.12) per lb, roughly 2.5 per cent,” said the Food, Fish and Allied Workers (FFAW) union.
A government-appointed seafood-pricing panel set the base price for lobster this year at CAD 3.25 (USD 3.26) per lb.
Last month, the executive director of the Seafood Processors of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL), George Joyce, said the panel’s 2012 formula would lead to a second consecutive year of losses for companies that buy lobster from fishers, CBC News reports.
Members of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association (PLFA), which emerged in January so lobster fishers could together fight to get a fair price for their catch, said the price of CAD 5 (USD 5.10) a lb of lobster late last month was not enough to let fishers survive.
Joyce said members of SPONL support the 2012 base price of CAD 3.25 (USD 3.26) a lb, but not the formula that adjusts prices after that, as it meant "large financial losses last year" for buyers of lobster.
Last year, the Seafood Producers argued against a base rate of CAD 4.25 (USD 4.26) chosen by the price-setting panel. The group later settled before the spring fishery started.
This year’s new formula takes into account that part of the lobster sales from the province gets a lower price in the market because it does not meet the specifications for the premium price, FFAW noted.
The union also said the new agreement, which will go into effect this coming weekend, will still tie prices to market conditions while adjusted on a weekly basis.
During collective bargaining earlier this year, FFAW suggested a price-to-market formula when buyers wanted to set the price themselves. After the Province’s Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel ruled in favour of the Union, most buyers said they refused to do business with lobster fishers.
The union then organized partnership with the Fogo Island Co-op, which shipped five tractor-trailer loads of lobster worth about CAD 1 million (USD 1 million).
Now, with the impending lobster season ready to open next week on the Northern Peninsula and elsewhere, FFAW President Earl McCurdy said the co-op would have been "hard-pressed" to keep up with the demand to sell lobsters.
No matter what, McCurdy said the co-op is "here to stay". Now that the price impasse has been taken care of, he said the elected Board of Directors will have the time to hash out a long-term plan in cooperation with the Union and Fogo Island Co-op.
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By Natalia Real