Shut down the industry, fishermen told

Tina
Tina Comeau
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Published on December 05, 2012

James Mood of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association said fishermen need to shut down the industry to give the association time to negotiate with buyers for a better price. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Listening to the message being delivered at a meeting for fishermen called by the 1688 Professionals Lobster Fishermen Association. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Fishermen listen to what is being said during a meeting on Yarmouth's waterfront called to address the low lobster price issue. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

The turnout was low at a Dec. 5 meeting in Yarmouth, but those who attended listened hard to what was being discussed. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Not much reason to smile during a meeting held on Yarmouth's waterfront the morning of Dec. 5. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Fishermen, mostly crewmembers, met on Yarmouth's waterfront for a meeting called to discuss the low price paid to fishermen. There were only a handful of captains and overall the turnout was low. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Some captains who couldn't make the Yarmouth meeting sent their wives to represent them. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

When it was asked how many captians were present at the meeting, only a half dozen hands went up. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

Fishermen, including crewmembers, feel trapped by the state of the lobster industry however few turned out for a meeting called by the 1688 association to discuss the issue. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

Published on December 05, 2012

James Mood of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association soeaks with a fisherman after the meeting concluded. FRED A. HATFIELD PHOTO

By Tina Comeau

THE VANGUARD

NovaNewsNow.com

 

A low turnout of fishermen gathered on Yarmouth’s waterfront Wednesday morning, Dec. 5, to listen as James Mood of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association told them the association wants to see fishermen shut down the industry to allow time to negotiate with buyers for a better price.

Fishermen are hauling in catches but only getting paid $3 a pound and there is fear the price will drop even lower.

At the meeting a newsletter was informally distributed to some in attendance that contained the heading “Uniting is the key.”

And that is part of the problem, said fishermen after the meeting wrapped up.

Everyone agrees they don’t like the price, but the fishermen are not united. They questioned what could be accomplished from a meeting attended by a few dozen crewmembers, a few business people and only a handful of captains. A few captains who were fishing sent their wives to represent them at the meeting. A rough count of the crowd suggested there were around 70 people in attendance. Whether the turnout would have been greater had the meeting been held later in the day when fishermen weren't fishing is unknown.

While those who attended the meeting agreed overall with what was being said, what isn’t known is what fishermen who weren’t at the meeting are prepared to do.

Fishermen who complain about a $3-a-pound lobster still went out fishing Wednesday on a day when a better price, given the wind that was blowing, might have normally kept them home.

But they’re fishing harder to catch more lobsters to try to make more money. It's not that they support the price, it's that they have bills to pay and families to support.

But Mood told those who gathered that fishing harder for a $3-a-pound lobster is not the right approach and the situation will only worsen unless some sort of action is taken.

“If you keep fishing you’re going to catch 80 per cent of these lobsters by Jan. 1 and you’re not going to make any money at $3 a pound,” said Mood. “I’m talking to fishermen. You have a problem and you can fix this if you want to. Going harder is not the right thing to do, you have to get smarter.”

And by smarter he said fishermen can’t keep feeding buyers and the markets with lobsters that they’re only going to get paid $3 a pound for.

“What we want to do, 1688, we want you fellows to shut this industry down and let us negotiate with the industry, the lobster dealers,” said Mood. “If you don’t, after Jan. 1 you’re going to starve to death for the next five months.”

The first few weeks of the season are when the majority of fishermen make their money during the six-month industry. Therefore it is also when, Mood said, they need a higher price.

He said shutting things down could involve staying home two or three days a week. Or it might include limiting the amount of pounds being landed.

“This ocean has been good for you until five years ago . . . The problem is you’re not getting enough money for your lobsters,” said Mood, and he said fishermen will never get a better price unless they do something about it.

The future of the industry, he said, is in the fishermen's hands.

No one in the crowd came to the microphone to speak, but they talked in clusters after the meeting was over. No one, it seemed, knows what the ultimate answer is.

Some fishermen told The Vanguard that no one should have set their pots at the start of the season until they had received a committed price from buyers. They worry that now may be too late for action if the inventories already exist for the busy Christmas and New Year's markets.

Other fishermen said they feel defeated when they come to these meetings and the turnout is low. On Facebook, fishermen said, people will complain about the status quo but the industry can’t seem to unite to agree on a solution.

Crewmembers who attended the meeting said if things continue on the same path it will be harder and harder for captains to find experienced crewmembers for their boats because people are soon going to be throwing in the towel and heading west. Some already have. They said the situation could also lead to more injury on the ocean as you see more and more younger and inexperienced crewmembers on boats.

It’s been reported that there has been a tremendous amount of lobster coming ashore and that it is this volume that is driving the price down because the supply exceeds the demand. (You can read here what one buyer had to say about this issue the evening before the fishermen were to meet.)

But 1688 feels reports of high catches are just a scare tactic being used by buyers so they can continue to justify paying a low price to fishermen. They say based on feedback they've heard from fishermen and fishing districts the catches are not at the record levels that's been reported by some buyers.

Another meeting was planned Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Barrington arena. You can read a story from that meeting by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizations: Professional Lobster Fishermen Association, The Vanguard

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Recent comments

  • Douglas Sutherland
    December 09, 2012 - 11:03

    I cannot believe the lobster industry has to be in such a state of economic /financial disarray. I am here in Florida and can buy pre-cooked frozen mussels all the way from Chile. They are in a one pound vacuum wrapped package. Just put in the microwave and heat. It struck me that what the SW Nova lobster industry needs is a lobster processing plant that can do this same kind of thing for the exporting of lobsters. To add value the shells could be properly split to facilitate the dining delight. No need to ship the bodies because that could be canned or used for something else. Now this is where Government intervention would be useful.

  • DOUGLAS SUTHERLAND
    December 09, 2012 - 10:54

    I cannot believe the lobster industry has to be in such a state of economic /financial disarray. I am here in Florida and can buy pre-cooked frozen mussels all the way from Chile. They are in a one pound vacuum wrapped package. Just put in the microwave and heat. It struck me that what the SW Nova lobster industry needs is a lobster processing plant that can do this same kind of thing for the exporting of lobsters. To add value the shells could be properly split to facilitate the dining delight. No need to ship the bodies because that could be canned or used for something else. Now this is where Government intervention would be useful. .

  • Island Fisherman
    December 09, 2012 - 09:00

    First of all why are they not being cut back on their pot limit. we here have 250-300 limit .They fish 400. Our season is only 2 months,while their's is 6 months.There is 900 Fishermen in that area bringing in roughly 4000-6000 pounds a day for the first two weeks of the season . No Buyer can move that amount of Lobster.James Mood is right they got to stop fishing for a few days so buyers can sell that lobster.Perhaps allow each Fisherman to bring in so many pounds after all would't it br better to get $6 a pound then three. It is time Government steped in here an intervine because the fisherman will not listen to anyone.

  • A GOODWIN
    December 07, 2012 - 21:44

    @Florence, yes the fishermen get $3.00 and sobeys sell for $6.99 as you say but don't for get sobeys are not buying from the fishermen themselves, there is another had in the circle befor sobeys gets the product .. buyers so as you go up the stack the price logically gets higher .. the middleman probably has the best advantage and most control, theroretically, but in reality the fishermen are in control because they are the ultimate supplier, and they have full control over that product if they accepted it and made it happen .. once they leafe the warf, fully knowing what the middleman will pay them, they then have nothing more to do but complain because they have excepted the $3.00 when they left the dock.. take control of your business and your product because soon it will be too late..

  • Jamie
    December 06, 2012 - 08:24

    The two parties will never agree on a resonable price, with record catches an an already flooded market these lobsters will take a while to move an in situations like this the price never goes up. But maybe if these fishermen didnt have such an over head they could still make a living, sure a new boat is nice but it comes with a cost. This could be the start of the collapse of the lobster fishery.

  • A. Sherman
    December 05, 2012 - 17:05

    The fisherman are never going to agree on anything. Put ten of them in the same room and they won't agree, let 900+. These meeting are a waste of time, and this association has lost it's credibility last spring. The government is charge of this resource that ultimately belongs to the citizens of Canada. Unfortunately, they don't seem willing to intervene. The fishermen will just continue to go harder the lower the price goes, and economics will take care of it all eventually. The fishermen are unwilling to change, so they have no one to blame but themselves and a poor US exchange rate.

    • florence dolliver
      December 06, 2012 - 08:24

      It's very Sad to know lobsters are being sold at Sobeys Store In Angus Ontario,for $6.99 a lb,and the Lobster Fishermen are only getting $3.00 when they are the hard workers that bring in the catch it don't matter what the weather.what's up with that?Unfair i call it