Delicate talks about the price of shrimp

In a context where the shrimp market was not as good as what we saw in lobsters and crabs, we are afraid of difficult negotiations, – Patrice Element, Director of the Quebec Fisheries Authority, comments

The task, Mr. Element continues, is to really agree on a price that will allow us to spend the season.

In the spring, discussions between the Office and cAQIP started without both sides knowing exactly what the total allowable catch (TAC) for the season would be. Therefore, only last Tuesday the parties exchanged their first proposals.

Canada’s fisheries and oceans waited almost four weeks after the official start of fishing to announce that TACwill be cut by an average of 12% this year in four Gulf districts.

Less shrimp means less income. This is a loss for fishermen of about $ 5 million at last year’s prices.

In addition, this year the price should be higher to compensate for higher fuel prices. Operating costs of shrimp catch follow fuel costs. Last year it doublednotes Mr. Element.

The situation at the plant is not better.

Patrice Element, Director of the Gaspe Shrimp Office

Photo: Radio Canada

Jean-Paul Gagnier, director general of the Québécoise de l’industrie de la pêche (AQIP), admits that with fewer resources, increasing processing costs will be harder to absorb. Our production costs, our fixed costs are higher. We’ll see what we can do. This is the first year so difficult. This complicates matters, if the market price is not higher, there is nothing guaranteedhe said.

Last year, the season was also postponed due to weak global markets. This fall in world prices was present before the pandemic, but the slow recovery is affecting the sector more than any other.

Shrimp arrive at the Pêcheries Marinard factory in the Riviera au Renard in Gaspe

According to AQIP (archives), with fewer resources it will be more difficult for factories to absorb the increase in processing costs.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Myriam Fimbry

The balance between the profitability of fishing companies, factories and the ability of the market to absorb this increase will not be easy to find, which could threaten the season.

Decline of fishing

The possibility of finding a common language in the short term does not eliminate concerns about the state of the resource in the medium and long term. The shrimp stock is one of the lowest in 30 years.

TAC est la principale mesure utilisée par la gestion des pêches pour freiner la diminution des stocks”,”text”:”Pour le moment, la diminution du TAC est la principale mesure utilisée par la gestion des pêches pour freiner la diminution des stocks”}}”>Currently declining in TAC is the main measure used by fisheries management to halt stock reductionsexplains Mariz Lemir, Regional Director of the Fisheries Department. We must not forget, she said, that fishing has a real and significant impact on the abundance of resources. We need to act on the aspect we control.

The resource is so bad that in the latest scientific report, the Ministry considered it necessary not to take into account the precautionary approach used by DFO identify possible yields while protecting stock stability.

The population would be overestimated, says Mariz Lemir, in a context where environmental conditions such as predation, water temperatures and oxygen saturation are unfavorable.

Well aware of the fragility of shrimp biomass, fishermen, however, believe that their impact is becoming less significant when compared, for example, with the red perch predator.

Shrimp said they were disappointed and a little angry to see that Fisheries and Oceans did not follow their own quota rules.

Shrimp live in a pond or in the St. Lawrence River.

Global warming seems to be the main cause of the decline of northern shrimp. The ideal water temperature for the survival of shrimp larvae is 4 to 6 degrees Celsius, while shrimp now develop in a layer of water at temperatures above 6 degrees (archives).

Photo: Radio Canada

Patrice Element recalls that fishermen followed these rules, even if it was not always in favor of fishermen. And suddenly we decide that these rules no longer apply. We are a little disappointed with this way of doing things, he says. Undoubtedly, we will make sure that our dissatisfaction goes to the Minister.

Coastal economy

Mariz Lemir, Regional Director of the Fisheries Department, notes that the fisheries plan includes measures that can help shrimp make their activities profitable, such as the transfer of quotas between fishermen.

In exceptional cases, she says, a temporary transfer of 100% is allowed: This may allow some fishermen to have enough quotas to cover their costs. The two permit holders can also go to sea together.

For Patrice Element, reducing the number of fishermen does not help the economy of coastal communities. In addition, many new fishermen have to meet significant financial obligations, says the director of the Office. An update has taken place in recent years. This issue, he comments, is the ability to repay public or private loans.

Uncertainty also puts pressure on factory workers. They [les transformateurs] will open later, close earlier? Are these people going to spend enough hours? Will they work part-time? asks Mr. Element.

The first arrival of shrimp on the pier of the Riviera au Renard

The first arrival of shrimp on the pier of the Riviera-au-Renard (archive).

Photo: Radio Canada

To make up for the shortage, shrimp require quotas for redfish, even if the opening of commercial fishing is expected only in two or three years.

Fisheries and oceans have to decide this year what catches will be allowed.

Shrimp has asked, and still asks, to convene an advisory committee on redfish, a group that brings together the entire industry, fisheries managers and scientists before a decision is made. Fishing for red perch probably won’t replace shrimp fishing completely, Patrice Element concludes, but it will help.

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