New Brundswick lobster boats. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Fishers protest cheap American lobster imports
Friday, August 03, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
New Brunswick (NB) Minister of Fisheries Michael Olscamp wants to have a meeting between lobster fishers in NB’s southeast and fish plant owners to tackle a quarrel over cheap lobster from the US. Canadian fishers want a fair market price.
The minister's goal is to ensure the lobster season on the Northumberland Strait opens next week as scheduled – under one condition.
"I just want to make it clear to the people, the fishers who are out there protesting right now and blocking entrances to plants, that that meeting will not take place unless they withdraw their actions," he stated, CBC News reports.
He was referring to this week’s protest during which 200 fishers blockaded three plants. They surrounded the plant’s owner and insisted he send his workers home.
Fishers acted out of frustration because plant owners have brought in tremendous amounts of cheap and plentiful lobsters from Maine just before their season opens. Fishers argue that they cannot match the lower US prices and worry the glut of cheap American lobster will leave no room for their product.
US lobster is currently fetching about USD 2 per lb partly because of this year’s earlier-than-usual harvest. In Maine, there have been large catches of cheaper shedder lobsters.
The fishers warned that if a meeting with the minister is not successful, they will continue to protest and block processing plants that are taking in US lobster.
They said they may not head out once lobster season begins, The Canadian Press reports.
Also this week, dozens of fishers gathered outside a processing plant in Bedec, where they yelled at the plant owner and turned off the refrigeration units containing the lobster.
"We understand the frustration that harvesters are feeling. They are sandwiched between forces they can't control," said Christian Brun, the union's executive secretary, according to Kennebec Journal. "Aiming at shipments of lobster from the US is just looking at the surface of the problem, in our point of view."
- Maine lobster fishers struggle with drastically low prices
By Natalia Real