Proposed five cent lobster levy is out of bounds says MLA

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Greg Bennett
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A proposed five cent per pound levy on lobster catches in Nova Scotia is under fire by an NDP MLA.

NDP Fisheries critic Sterling Belliveau says the province has stepped out of bounds by declaring a five-cent-a-pound lobster levy without first consulting with harvesters.

 Belliveau made the comments after Keith Colwell’s announcement that he will introduce legislation this fall that will impose a levy on lobster catches for "marketing and quality.”

The Queens-Shelburne MLA says this is nearly triple the amount recommended by the Maritime Lobster panel in the fall of 2013.

 “I honestly don’t know where Keith Colwell gets off thinking he can impose a five cent a pound tax on lobster without getting the approval of the industry first,” says Belliveau. “Lobster fishers have fought hard to maintain their independence and Minister Colwell has no right to impose anything on them without first getting their permission.”

Belliveau says while the industry was open to considering a two cent a pound levy for marketing, Colwell’s unilateral decision to increase the levy to five cents will cost fishermen and their crews a tremendous amount of money. It will also cost buyers additional money. Belliveau wonders who is going to receive profits from this levy and who will determine how they will be administered.

 “Every fishermen in every port across Nova Scotia is wondering right now why they are going to have to fork over hundreds of extra dollars and who will decide how that money will be spent. Minister Colwell has a lot of explaining to do,” added Belliveau. 

Organizations: Maritime Lobster

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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  • Ralph Hayden
    July 28, 2014 - 14:40

    In the 70’s the department of fisheries and oceans started a proactive measure in the fishing industry. They started the freezing of licenses in most sectors of the fishery. Ground fish otter trawling, scallop dragging, and many other. This was to protect the depleting stalks. This was to allow industry to maintain a viable income for all involved. After the stalks rebound the freeze was to be lifted and more licenses would be allowed into the industry. This has never happened and there are many reasons for this. When they froze the licenses it forced the fisherman to fish for what ever species of fish they were allowed. This in turn made them build bigger boats, increase equipment and expand the search for the fish. They had no choice to do so; it was the only option for them to stay fishing. This was granted with public funding through the fisherman’s loan board. Prior to this if one stalk was down they would simply switch over and fish another type of fish, not anymore. Then along came quotas, this was going to save the industry. DFO decided that if the limits the catches that this would help bring back stalks. In away this did work to a certain degree. But as most any fisherman will tell you, that when fishing otter trawl you can’t tell haddock to stay out when you want cod or visa versa. So what do you do? Well what any person would do when your forced to fish one type of fish, Grind up or pitch over what you don’t want and keep what you do. So really they didn’t protect anything just looked well on paper. Let’s not forget the ever so popular ITQ’s now this is a honey. Individual transferable quotas, my how I hate them, this was to help fisherman? Really? This has become a money grab from the start. DFO decided to sell quota to fisherman in efforts to cut costs to the budget. Now all the fish belong to companies (Before they are caught) and sold to their own workers to catch. Buy cheep sell high, free cash in the pocket for the wealthy on the backs of the working man. Now I see the Nova Scotia government is going to charge 5 cents a pound for lobster, this is for marketing purposes. All I can say is are you serious? Why are you marketing anything? Your not the buyers or the sellers, your suppose to be for the people who elected you not companies. They want to buy the product let them sell it. Now I see almost the same day you announce that you’re going to charge 5 cents a pound that your also going to buy back licenses from lobster fisherman to limit the amount of people in the industry this making the price go up. All I can say is if the fisherman didn’t build million dollar boats with 700 horse power engines burning 30 gallons of fuel an hour maybe they wouldn’t need higher prices. Maybe reduce size of boats back to a maintainable level. The stalks have increased this is when the fisheries is supposed to be releasing new licenses into the industry as they promised when they put the freeze on. Not the government protecting a few that went so big that the cost is too much for them. All in all, great job in bankrupting entire communities. The ones based on the fishing industry here in Nova Scotia. And keep giving them multi million dollar corporations hand outs and aid packages to keep the real fishermen down and out. Got to get the price up so those few owners and industry heads can make a few more bucks to take down to Florida in the off season. God forbid if you allow the industry to support the communities instead of companies