Lobster fishing trap. (Photo: DFO)
New Brunswick tries to negotiate with lobster fishers
Wednesday, August 08, 2012, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
New Brunswick has made an offer to lobster fishers to compensate for the purchase of cheap lobsters from Maine. Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp is hoping this will be enough to stop the fishers’ protests.
Last week, hundreds of fishers blocked three processing plants in southeastern New Brunswick because plants were processing American lobster, which was going for about CAD 2 (USD 1.99) a lb.
This week, about 150 lobster fishers resumed their protests. Fishers explain that they cannot even pay the fuel and the bait to go out for a day if all they will get is CAD 2 a lb.
A meeting was held last weekend involving about 300 New Brunswick fishers, and they say that they will continue protesting until they get a guarantee of at least CAD 4 (USD 3.99) a lb, CBC News reports.
Olscamp maintains the province has no control over the price.
"As you can appreciate, prices are based upon a supply and demand, free market system. We have no control over that, whether it be lobster or any other commodity," Olscamp explained.
The province then made an offer to the Maritime Fishermen's Union to help out its members.
"It's a form of compensation, there's no doubt about it, but the figure of CAD 5,000 (USD 4,997) [to be paid to each lobsterman] was never agreed to. It was discussed, but never agreed to," he said.
The minister is hoping to hear back from the union early this week. Meanwhile, Olscamp hopes that "cooler heads will prevail" as negotiations are worked out.
Maine lobster dealers have mostly found other Canadian processors to ship to in the meantime, said Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.
"The concern is that it becomes widespread," Keliher said. "If a majority of processors in Canada weren't taking lobster then we'd end up with a backlog of product, and that'd be bad."
Olscamp said his department will continue to negotiate with fishers as long as they do not keep processing plants from opening, Associated Press reports.
The lobster season in southeastern New Brunswick is scheduled to begin on 9 August.
- Fishers protest cheap American lobster imports
By Natalia Real