On Monday, May 13th, the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) made an application to the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel asking for a reconsideration on the minimum snow crab price. Once the Panel is served with the application it has 96 hours to make a final decision on whether there should be a new price and what that price should be. Therefore, the Panel’s decision has to be released by 5:30 pm on Friday, May 17th.
Under the rules for the Panel, each side – ASP and FFAW – can make one application for a price reconsideration on snow crab each year. The Panel can only change the price on reconsideration if there is a significant change to either the market or currency.
Last year, your Union asked for a price consideration when the market, according to the Urner Barry price index, moved from $7.95 to $8.65, which the Panel thought was significant. As a result, the price changed from $4.65 to $4.90. This year the market price listed on Urner Barry has declined from $8.75 at the start of the season to $7.95 as of May 16th. The Panel thought that this was significant and agreed to hold a hearing to consider reducing the price.
All Panel hearings with ASP are based on final offer selection, meaning that the Panel has to pick either the ASP price of the FFAW price. The same rules apply to reconsideration.
There was a strong delegation of crab harvesters from across the province representing your Union in the one day of negotiations that we had with ASP before the Panel hearing. At the negotiating session, it was clear that ASP’s new price position was around $4.90, a 48-cent reduction to harvesters, which is what they thought was in line with the market.
The reconsideration and the ASP price position was a significant challenge to harvesters. The negotiating committee was left with two difficult options. The first was to stick to the price of $5.38. Given the changes in the market, the committee thought that this would clearly be a losing position before the Panel, which would mean the price would decline to $4.90.
The second option was to adjust the price in relation to the market decline in order to preserve the best share for harvesters. This is what the committee decided. It is always the goal of the committee to get the best minimum price possible for the harvester under the circumstances. Therefore, after much debate, the decision was made to put forth a price offer of $5.05, which would protect harvester share in the midst of a falling market.
Making this price change was a difficult decision that no one in the room was happy to make. But the ASP price position would reduce the value to harvesters by $12 million. The position of your Union will keep several million dollars more in the hands of harvesters, which is what is most important.
The Panel hearing was held on the afternoon of Thursday, May 16th. A decision will be made by 5:30 this evening, May 17th and your Union will send out the new price immediately.
The new price is effective as of 12:01 am, Sunday May 19th. All crab landed before then will receive the current minimum price of $5.38.