The scene at the Little River Harbour wharf on the morning of Thursday, May 3. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
The 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association says the strike by lobster fishermen is still ongoing and at a meeting being held at the Yarmouth Mariners Centre on Friday evening a decision will be made as to whether the strike will continue.
Fishermen have been on strike for a week. The strike was initiated by the 1688 association, with the goal being to have buyers commit to a price for the remainder of the season. Fishermen would ideally like to see a minimum committed price of $5 a pound.
On Friday night, May 4, a meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Mariners Centre. The 1688 association says the purpose of the meeting is for the membership to decide if the strike ends or continues.
While many ports have seen their lobster fleets tied up all week, boats at some wharfs have gone fishing anyway. Fishermen are conflicted in this strike. Those staying ashore say they can’t afford to continue to fish lobster for a low price and a unified approach is needed to drive the price up. Many say they are prepared to wait it out.
Others say because of low prices this season, and with only four weeks left in the season, they need to fish to earn money to pay bills and expenses and the decision should be theirs as to whether they fish or not.
On Thursday afternoon a meeting was held involving members of the 1688 board, representation from the LFA 34 Management Board and the RCMP to discuss the ongoing strike – specifically, the reports of harrassment and vandalism.
Following that meeting, however, there was some confusion as to whether the strike was still ongoing or not. A meeting was held on Yarmouth’s waterfront by the 1688 association Thursday evening where the message was the strike continues.
The RCMP have stepped up their presence in parts of southwestern Nova Scotia over the past couple of days amid complaints of some vandalism and harassment against fishermen who have opted not to stay on shore. The RCMP say they are maintaining a 24-hour presence using RCMP resources that have been deployed from throughout southwestern Nova Scotia. An RCMP spokesperson says things have been relatively peaceful.
The 1688 association has said it does not condone vandalism or threats.
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- Lobster strike: strong & crumbling support
Meanwhile, some ports have been holding meetings to discuss amongst themselves whether they should continue to stay ashore or go fishing.
The Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association released a statement on Thursday about the ongoing strike. The Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association has approximately 60 seafood companies and associates as members.
“As this tense situation carries on in the lobster fishery, the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association continues to support the fishing industry in our province. We see the organization of harvesters into a cohesive and democratic unit as a necessity and as a step forward for the future of the lobster industry in Southwest Nova Scotia, in much the same way we organize members of the processing sector,” reads a statement by the association.
“It is imperative to state, however, that negotiations be carried out in a respectful and peaceful manner. It is discouraging to see the instances of violence, intimidation, and threats escalating amongst members of our communities. This situation affects and reflects upon all of us, and is not part of what our life on the coast means to us.”
The association says the cost to communities of staying tied up is substantial.
“It is estimated that our local economy is losing in excess of $2 million for every day that fishing is limited. That is money that would be spent in our businesses and provide wages to employees. It is a loss that our region cannot bear for any length of time,” said the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.
“As an association we are not mandated to be involved directly in the pricing of any stock,” says the association. “For the betterment and unity of the communities throughout southwestern Nova Scotia, we ask for respectful consultations with open, transparent, and courteous communication. If our association can help bring parties to a point where this can happen, we would be proud and eager to lend any support we are able to provide to reach that goal.”