Crab Price Dispute Settled in Newfoundland

April 23, 2013, 2:20 PM EST

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The CAW/FFAW has reached a deal on crab pricing with the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) that puts an end to a weeks-long dispute in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Processors agreed to pay 17 cents more per pound for all crab sales up to and including May 4, which is over and above the minimum $1.83 per pound as set by the provincial Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel.

The dispute started in April, following news that the ASP had proposed setting crab prices at rates below those offered in 2012 and 2011. The $1.83 per pound rate ($1.53 for crabs with less than a four-inch carapace) fell far below the union's proposed rate of $2.00. 

"The processors spent the winter building up expectations for a significant increase in the price of crab from last year," CAW/FFAW President Earle McCurdy said in an interview with The Coaster newspaper. "They hyped it up by talking to license holders and led them to understand they would be receiving good prices for crab, which would mean increased paychecks this year."

Hundreds of fish harvesters attended a meeting in Clarenville on April 4, and made it clear they would not start the 2013 crab season until a better price was offered. The dispute escalated on April 15, when more than 200 fishers dumped 30,000 pounds of crab back into the ocean when a processor in the small community of Hickman's Harbour tried to produce crab in the face of the tie-up.

In addition to the revised pricing rate, the union and ASP agreed to form a joint working group that will develop options for crab pricing structures in future.

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