Nfld. & Labrador

Lobster pricing agreement ends dispute

The province's fisheries union and the seafood processors have reached agreement on lobster pricing for the remainder of the 2012 season.

Lobster harvesters co-op 'here to stay' says FFAW

A 2012 lobster pricing agreement was reached on Friday. ((CBC))

The province's fisheries union and the seafood processors have reached agreement on lobster pricing for the remainder of the 2012 season, ending an impasse that led to some fishermen setting up a co-op to ship lobster out of the province.

"The amended formula effectively reduces raw material prices by 10 to 12 cents per pound roughly two and half per cent," according to a Food, Fish and Allied Workers union news release about the pricing agreement reached Friday.

A government-appointed seafood-pricing panel set the base price for lobster this year at $3.25 per pound.

In early April, George Joyce, the executive director of the Seafood Processors of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the panel’s 2012 formula would mean a second straight year of losses for companies that buy lobster from fishermen.

Joyce said SPONL members support the 2012 base price of $3.25 a pound, but not the formula that adjusts prices after that. He said the same formula meant "large financial losses last year" for lobster buyers.

In 2011, the Seafood Producers balked at a base rate of $4.25 that had been imposed by the price-setting panel. The group later settled in time for the spring fishery.

The new 2012 formula recognizes that a portion of the lobster sales from Newfoundland gets a lower price in the market because it does not meet the specifications for the premium price, according to the FFAW.

The union also said the new agreement, which comes into effect on Sunday, May 6, continues to tie prices to market conditions, adjusted on a weekly basis.

In collective bargaining earlier this spring, the union proposed a price-to-market formula, while the buyers essentially wanted to set the price themselves. After the Province’s Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel ruled in favour of the Union, most buyers refused to buy.

The union then organized partnership with the Fogo Island Co-op. The co-op shipped five tractor-trailer loads of lobster – about $1 million worth.

But with the lobster season set to open next week on the Northern Peninsula and other areas, FFAW president Earl McCurdy said the co-op would have been "hard-pressed" to keep up with the demand to move lobsters.

Co-op will continue

However, McCurdy said the co-op is "here to stay". Now that the price impasse has been resolved, he said the elected Board of Directors will have the time, in co-operation with the Union and Fogo Island Co-op, to develop a long-term plan.