POLITICS

New Brunswick Lobster Protests Hurt Industry, Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp Says

08/05/2012 05:55 EDT | Updated 10/05/2012 05:12 EDT
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FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's fisheries minister said Sunday he hopes "cooler heads will prevail," in ongoing negotiations with the province's lobster fishermen.

However Michael Olscamp said he has no control over whether there are more protests like the ones staged at fish processing plants in Cap-Pele and Shediac last week. The protests, though, are hurting the industry, Olscamp said.

"It's not doing them any good right now," he said in a phone interview. "We've just sent a message out saying we'd like them to stop."

The fishermen are worried that cheap American lobster will drive down prices.

Fishermen prevented at least one truckload of American lobster from being unloaded at one of the plants last week.

In response to protests that started Thursday, lobster industry officials and the New Brunswick government agreed to a minimum of $2.50 per pound for processed lobster and $3 per pound for live market lobster.

However media reports on indicated many fishermen are still unhappy and quoted some who attended a meeting in Richibucto on Sunday as threatening to stage more protests at processing plants this week.

Lobster prices depend on several factors and the government has little influence, said Olscamp, who is planning to meet with the Maritime Fishermen's Union again on Tuesday.

He says he doesn't think the general view of the union is in line with the demonstrators.

"My understanding is that this group is a bit of a rebel group."

The Maritime Fishermen's Union did not immediately return phone calls.

The lobster season opens this week in parts of the region.

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