NEWS

Lobster protest continues over low prices

05/10/2013 11:27 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 05:12 EDT
Lobster fishermen in eastern New Brunswick are tying up their boats for a third day to protest the low prices they are receiving for their catch.

A large crowd of lobster fishermen from Escuminac, Baie St-Anne and Pointe Sapin agreed on Thursday to continue the protest to get better prices.

Serge Shipley is one of many fishermen who put the blame for the low prices on one group.

"It’s not the processors’ fault, they're not making money, the fishermen are not making money. It’s the brokers that are making all the money," he said.

Lobster season started nearly two weeks ago. But fishermen found out two days ago their catches will net them at least $1 per pound less than last year.

Market lobsters are now valued at $3.50 per pound and canners are $3 per pound.

After the protest on Friday, the fishermen will decide on a daily basis whether to stay off the water.

Fisheries Minister Mike Olscamp said he intends to help get lobster boats back on the water, as soon as possible.

"I would mediate, certainly, I think that's the role I have to play. I certainly don't want this to drag out," Olscamp said.

"I look back at last year, but we've gone out of our way, we've done everything, the department and I have worked so hard to see if we could avoid this situation and the situation is predicated by prices, bottom line, which I have no control over."

In 2012, lobster fishermen were protesting low prices and eventually a deal was struck to top up prices for their lobster catch.

Fisherman face pressure to break ranks

Some fishermen are feeling pressure to break ranks and return to fishing, despite the protest.

Lynn Gregan is one of a handful of fishermen who say they cannot afford to stay off the water even though the lobster prices are so low.

"At $3 a pound it’s tough going but at three days down, they got to bring in the resource, it`s a natural resource that we need to harvest and we only get so many days to do it," Gregan said.

Lobster fishermen from Tabusintac north to Dalhousie have also decided to fish on Friday.

Shipley said it’s difficult to see some fishermen decide head out onto the water while others are trying to hold out for a better price.

"Well it`s not too nice really because we are all in the same hole," he said.

"Everybody should stick together as fishermen, it`s unfortunate. But there are meetings going on after this to talk to them guys to see what their point of view will be after today."

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