Don't sell lobsters for less than $5.50

Tina
Tina Comeau
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By Tina Comeau

THE VANGUARD

NovaNewsNow.com

 

Hundreds of fishermen who attended a meeting in Yarmouth on Wednesday, Jan 11 were told to stay the course and not sell their lobsters until the price climbs to $5.50 a pound.

Still, many fishermen in the room said not only shouldn’t fishermen be selling the lobsters that are being landed, but fishermen should tie up their boats and not go fishing until the price situation improves.

The meeting was organized by a newly-formed lobster fishing association started up by Shelburne County businessman and former fisherman James Mood. This meeting was a follow-up to one on Jan. 4 in Barrington, which was held to see if there was interest in forming an association. Judging by the attendance at the Jan. 11 meeting in Yarmouth, the interest exists.

“Get up here, get up here,” Mood said, pointing to the few empty chairs inside the room at the Grand Hotel prior to the start of the meeting. “I guess they’re not going to listen to me,” he said as fishermen stood at the back of the room.

But fishermen were there to listen to Mood and what he told them was fishermen are to blame for the low prices they’ve been receiving for their catches.

Why?

“Because you went fishing without a minimum price,” he told them. Fishermen knew they might only get $3.25 or $3.50 for their lobsters, yet when the season started they went fishing anyway, Mood said.

“You went lobstering when it was down, and you took your crewmembers and didn’t make them any money,” said Mood. “Who is going to clean the mess up? You guys are going to have to clean it up. If you give me the mandate we’ll clean it up. And it’s your choice if you want to or not.”

He all but guaranteed them that if they hold off on selling their lobsters they’ll get a price of $5.50.

“Give it five to six days,” he said, adding, however, that if it doesn’t work and fishermen want to go one step further by putting a halt to fishing, then that’s something that can be voted on.

Still, no one is going to be forced to do anything, Mood said. Fishermen will make the choice of how far they are willing to go for their industry.

But even in saying that, the message at the meeting was a united front is a forceful front.

Mood is blunt and tells it like it is, even when he called for a smoke break partway through the meeting. “Who smokes here?” he said, adding, “Don’t you know it’ll kill ya!”

Mood said he “won’t take bull crap from anyone.” And neither should fishermen, he said. And neither should the hired men on the back of the boat.

Aside from holding back their catch, Mood said if fishermen find out that a dealer is offering a higher price than their own dealer is, then fishermen have a duty to insist that their dealer offer that same higher price.

The association is being called the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen's Association. The number 1688 refers to the number of licences in lobster fishing areas 33 and 34. Mood said the goal is to reach a membership of 80 per cent of licence holders and 80 per cent of crewmembers. Numbers like this, he said, will make it difficult to ignore the wishes of the association.

Dues are $250 for licence holders and $25 for crewmembers.

The association is also hoping to attract membership from other areas, such as Digby and Grand Manan, New Brunswick.

“We have to have them on side if we’re going to fix this lobster price,” Mood said.

And he doesn’t just want fishermen and crews to support the association, he wants the private sector and businesses to ante up dollars as well, since a stronger lobster industry benefits the economy.

In response to questions raised outside of this meeting regarding whether fishermen would blockade the causeway in Shelburne County, Mood said there will none of this type of activity. Why, he said, would you do something that is going to hurt or inconvience the people who will be buying your lobster? There will be no boycotts, he said, and no criminal activity.

Mood invited people to step up to the microphone to ask questions or share concerns. Many did.

 

Cont'd on Page 2....

 

Organizations: Grand Hotel

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Shelburne County, Barrington Professional Lobstermen Grand Manan New Brunswick Town Point Little River Harbour Saskatchewan Alberta

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Honest Lobster Buyer
    January 13, 2012 - 23:44

    Very good post by you to Common Sense,you are also right on the money!

  • Honest Lobster Buyer
    January 13, 2012 - 23:41

    Very good & right on the money post, ABEL & TRGO

  • Common Sense
    January 13, 2012 - 10:08

    It's all well and good to demand more money. What isn't discussed is that catches in the past 10-15 yrs have significantly increased. It wasn't that long ago that catching 60,000 lbs for the season was remarkable. This year, there are countless boats that have landed 60, 70, even 100 thousand pounds already. That's twice the catch at half the price. Seems like a perfect example of an elastic supply/demand situation. But then again, when the price was $15 a few yrs ago, many thought it should be higher. It's a sick industry that is not going to be fixed in a few "evangelical" meetings that don't follow Robsterson's rules at all. Not a single counting of votes in the video from the 2 meetings so far. Where's the democratic process? Also, there's a big difference between an association working on issues and a for profit company buying lobsters from all the boats. Then again, could be a different story next week.

    • cjs
      January 15, 2012 - 10:29

      I highly doubt the number of boats that have caught 60 to 100 thousand pounds are countless.. and even if they were, the cost of a lobster outfit has increased 3 to 5 times what they were 10 to 15 years ago. Fuel costs and bait, license fees and other expenses are up as well. So this twice the catch at half the price thing still spells disaster. What about the boats in the 25 to 40 thousand pound range. As far as the meetings go I don't remember them being held at church, nothing "evangelical" about them. Be patient, lets get united first and take it from there. Lets not be too quick to shoot it down, the potential is there to make it work and if it doesn't its because we allowed it to fail. Maybe neither of our sense is very "common" at all.

  • trgo
    January 12, 2012 - 21:50

    $5.50 per pound certainly sounds like a good idea, but ..... If Maine/Mass lobstermen get only $4.50 per pound, then the Maine/Mass price will, by default, become the market price for nearly all lobster harvested and sold in the US. Very little Nova Scotia lobster will be sold to a 310 million population market in the US, if the Nova Scotia price is artifically set, well above the US lobster price. That is just a simple function of economics!

  • Abel Belangier
    January 12, 2012 - 18:08

    Although I sympathize with Lobster fishermen , I do not feel any worse for them than I do all the other people in the world who have lost jobs and had to take pay cuts to keep their jobs.The world economy is in a downward spiral and I am not sure that Mr Mood or a lot of the fishermen understand all of the factors that have conspired to drop the price of lobsters, there has been a perfect storm of circumstances that have come together over the last few years to decrease the price. It is not just greedy buyers . A buyer can not pay more at the wharf ,then he is going to get for the product. First the high Canadian dollar means the buyer can not pass along the exchange difference .The market is flooded by more lobsters being landed FLA 34 , in Digby , Grand Manan , Maine and almost everywhere else that lobsters are caught , Maine alone is landing 4 million lbs more than they did in 2007. This coupled with a 30% drop in lobster sales at restaurants , as apposed to a 6% drop in other seafoods. Now add to this the fact that most large lobsters were sent from maine to Iceland to be cooked and canned until the "implosion" of the Iceland banks ,A huge market lost .Lower consumption and more lobsters than ever on the market , can only lead to one thing , low price. The price at the wharf in Maine last summer was $3.25 , this summer $2.75 .All of this information is available on the Internet.The problem here is that Lobster fishermen have been used to high prices for a few years ( because $3.50 was not an unusual price 15 years ago), and some have overextend themselves with unnecessarily large and expensive boats , and unrealistic expenses. Lobster fishermen may have to come to the realization that they are going to have to work in the off season ,like most of the population, to maintain there standard of living , or they may have to cut back like so many people have had to in this recession. Maybe fishermen should stop for a minute and feel that they are lucky that they didn't work at Larsens , or the Fundy Gypsume mine , or one of the 2 Poultry plants in the valley that have closed . They do still have an income , They are just starting to feel the economic crunch like a lot of people are. I just hope that the Lobster fishermen do not let someone , who may be trying to create a paycheck for himself , talk them into having no paycheck instead of some paycheck.

  • Cyrille LeBlanc
    January 12, 2012 - 13:58

    Crazy enough! Very good article. I enjoyed the quotes which portrays the colourful character of James Mood that I have never spoken to. He seems crazy enough (good crazy) to make the new association work and hopefully, with help, make a difference on the issue of our lobster fishery. After all, the one who said the earth is round was crazy. Right? Caution. The association needs good administrators, financial and record keeping as well as good listeners and negotiators. James Mood, and others like him, can then be let loose on the wharfs of South West Nova Scotia for the difficult task of uniting the fishermen. I'm worried about our area's lost of young families. I hear many are contemplating moving away.

  • Anne Beattie
    January 12, 2012 - 08:34

    I am so very proud of the fishermen who attended the meeting. This movement is long overdue and Mr. Mood and those who are working so hard deserve our thanks. It takes a lot of courage to fish and be out on the water, This courage and heart is what will make a difference now. Just like fishing, there will be some rough seas as the association gets going. But, these are Nova Scotia fishermen with a proud tradition behind them. To those who spoke out--right on! To families and businesses who are a part of this--remember they need your support even more now. We are all in this together!