Fisheries minister says higher lobster levy would apply to a regional quality pilot project

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Pinkney's Point Wharf: last day of the lobster season. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

By Tina Comeau



The province’s fisheries minister is clarifying recent remarks he made about a five-cent lobster levy saying when he spoke about the higher levy he neglected, at the time, to explain it is for a pilot project in an as-of-yet unannounced region.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell caught many in the lobster industry by surprise when he said legislation was being prepared for a five-cent lobster levy. This differed from a two-cent levy for every pound of lobster landed – harvesters and processors would each pay one cent – that was initially proposed by the Lobster Council of Canada and was later included as a recommendation in the Maritime Lobster Panel’s report.

Speaking about the higher levy last week, Colwell had told reporters two cents would go towards marketing with the other three cents targeted for quality. Many pounced on his remarks saying the industry was not consulted about an industry-wide five-cent levy.

On the flip side the industry has been consulted about the two-cent levy. The issue has come up at industry meetings in the past, and presentations were made when the Lobster Council of Canada was proposing the two-cent levy. In March participants at a Canadian Lobster Value Recovery Summit endorsed a two-cent Maritime levy.

Colwell now explains that Nova Scotia is committed to a two-cent per pound lobster levy on landings in this province to promote generic marketing and that it is also considering a quality project in one region of the province that would be supported by another levy.

The province has not disclosed the region being eyed for the pilot project, saying details of the quality project levy have not yet been finalized. A local rep with the LFA 34 Management Board tells this newspaper it is not LFA 34 that is being considered for the pilot. He was unaware of what region it is.

The provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture says legislation to allow approval of the overall lobster marketing levy will be introduced in the fall.

Speaking about the potential pilot project with the higher levy, Colwell said on July 28, "We are also in discussions with representatives of a region of Nova Scotia about an additional, region-specific levy of three cents for a pilot project to support efforts to improve quality. Representatives of that region are receptive to the idea, but it has not been finalized and will not be adopted without their approval."

Should the pilot go forward, the results of the pilot project would be presented to industry before determining if it would expand to other regions.

Prior to Colwell clarifying that the higher levy would be applied to a pilot project, a former provincial fisheries minister said it would be wrong for Colwell and his department to impose a five-cent-a-pound levy on lobster landings without industry consent. Sterling Belliveau said votes need to be taken and a mandate must first be obtained. He also said for the sake of transparency, information must be provided on exactly what the money collected through a higher level would be used for and who would administer the money collected.

Organizations: Lobster Council of Canada, Canadian Lobster Value Recovery Summit, LFA 34 Management Board Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Ralph Hayden
    July 29, 2014 - 10:59

    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 stocks. This was to allow industry to maintain a viable income for all involved. After the stocks 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 stock 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 stocks. 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 stocks 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