© Tina Comeau photo
by Belle Hatfield
Lobster marketing is on the radar with Nova Scotia Liberals. In its election platform the Liberal Party has identified $500,000 in new spending for a lobster marketing board.
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil told the Vanguard that stabilizing the price of lobster is one of the most important economic development goals for rural Nova Scotia.
“To me it is unacceptable that we are selling lobster for $3 a pound on the wharf,” he said. “Every time you increase the value of that lobster at the wharf, you are putting more and more money in rural communities. One of the greatest rural economic development things we can do is make sure we get the right value for lobster.”
McNeil says the province can help the industry in opening new markets and encouraging value-added initiatives.
“We need to open up new markets for selling what is in my view a valuable resource that we have allowed to be devalued,” he said.
Marketing Canadian lobster is Geoff Irvine’s business. As executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada, he is thrilled to see lobster on any party’s platform.
“The good news is that they want to spend some money on lobsters,” he said in response to the Liberals’ platform.
The focus of the council’s marketing effort is to brand Canadian lobster.
“I would hope that the $500,000 would be spent the way the industry wants it to be spent. It’s not about Nova Scotia. It is about Canada. Marketing Nova Scotia lobsters is not where the money should be spent,” he said.
The state of Maine is amping up the money it’s putting on the table for lobster marketing efforts, which will be funded through increases in license fees for fishermen and lobster dealers and processors. When fully implemented it is expected the program will direct up to $2 million annually into marketing Maine lobster.
Lobster prices have been in a tailspin since 2008. The economic crisis dried up the markets for live lobster – lobster is viewed as a luxury to be eaten by the rich and for celebrations. As the financial markets crashed, there wasn’t much to celebrate. At the same time markets collapsed, landings continued to rise. In simple economic terms over the last two seasons there has been more live lobster coming onshore in Maine and Atlantic Canada than the markets can easily move. Canadian lobsters accounted for around $1 billion in exports last year.