By Greg Bennett
The Coast Guard
Interest in meetings has waned but the head of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association says some major decisions still have to be made this summer.
During a poorly attended meeting in Barrington on June 5, James Mood said the industry should be prepared for another lobster fishing strike after the season begins again.
“Don’t rule it out. We might have to go on strike this winter,” he said.
James Mood says the association will be surveying fishermen from across LFA 33 and 34 to ask what the minimum shore price should be for next year’s season. The association’s insistence that prices remain above $5.50 led to last month’s strike.
“The main issue was the $5.50,” he said. “In April everyone forgot about the $5.50 except for me.”
He noted that he wasn’t happy about several things during that short-lived work action including incidents of threats, bullying and harassment between fishermen.
“I almost got into two fistfights,” he said.
He also expressed frustration with groups of fishermen, including many association members, who decided to go fishing despite the fact that a strike had been called.
Despite that, Mood said the strike did some good.
“The strike was a success …and I’ll tell you why …did you get a better price? Yes,” he said.
Mood talked about the importance of increasing the association’s membership over the summer months. The association claims to have about 20 percent of license holders in the two districts as members. Mood is hoping to have dozens more signed in the coming weeks with members personally contacting prospective candidates.
“Meetings aren’t working,” said Mood who noted that only two new members were signed on in the last month.
During Tuesday’s meeting, it became clear that many fishing representatives from District 33 have concerns about the association, which was formed in January by Mood in response to low shore prices for lobster.
Ann Marie Mosher, of Riverport, told the meeting that LFA 33 was very different than its neighbour and that many in the industry were worried about what the association had planned for the future.
“I don’t recognize a face here,” said Mosher, who noted that there was a huge disparity in landings between the two districts and many fishermen in LFA 33 were just surviving from season to season.
“We’re so far apart we’re on different planets,” she said.
Mood replied that the association was a democratic group and that the membership could easily change its direction and leadership if it wished.
“We’re not going to please everyone,” he said. “There have to be changes …but we have to do it in a democratic way.”
Despite challenges since its inception at the beginning of the year, Mood says the association can take credit for adding millions of dollars to local economies by helping to keep prices up over the season.