POLITICS

Buyers in southwest Nova Scotia on board with lobster marketing fee:minister

05/21/2015 10:57 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - A significant part of Nova Scotia's most lucrative lobster fishery could soon be on board with some sort of lobster marketing levy, says Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell.

Colwell said Thursday that buyers on the southwestern shore have agreed to pay a fee, although the structure and amount is yet to be determined.

"It's going to be a little bit complex to get it all in place, but at least this is the first breakthrough we've had," said Colwell.

Many in the industry maintain getting Canada's largest lobster fishery to accept the levy is key to getting the proposed marketing initiative off the ground.

The area accounts for 40 per cent of the country's total catch.

To date there has been resistance to a levy or fee and Colwell said fishermen still haven't agreed to the idea.

But he said the fee could move ahead without them after consultations are concluded with the buyers.

"We haven't established the amount," Colwell said. "But they (buyers) are talking about the same amount of money, which would be close to $2 million."

As for the overall status of the initiative, Colwell said fishing organizations in eastern Nova Scotia are in favour of a levy, while buyers in the western part of the province are interested in paying a fee as part of a licensing agreement.

He said given the complexities involved, it's likely a new fee won't be in place until sometime next year.

The provincial government introduced legislation last month that would allow it to collect a fee through regulations once the lobster industry decides what form the fee will take.