Seafood processors in southeastern New Brunswick say the late start to the lobster season due to a pricing dispute with fishermen has hurt the industry.

They say the lobster isn't surviving the distance from the boat to the plants in the intense heat and they’re throwing out about 20 per cent of what comes in.

"The good fishermen and the fishermen that take care of their lobster and bring us quality lobster, then we'll pay the top price," said Norm LeBlanc, who owns Captain Dan’s in Richibouctou-Village..

"And if there's wharves, or fishers, or buyers that bring us lobster that isn't to our standards, then obviously there will be cuts, deductions."


Lobster processors say the late start to the season means many of the lobsters are dying in the heat. ((CBC))

The lobster season on the Northumberland Strait started on Aug. 13, following almost two weeks of protests by fishermen over plants processing cheap American lobster.

LeBlanc says the four-day delay pushed the season into the hot weather and affected the survival rate of the catch because many fishermen are not well-equipped to handle the heat.

"In the strait, the water is extremely warm, so this particular lobster in Zone 25 is not a strong lobster, and I have thrown out, in the garbage, in excess of 50,000 pounds," he said.

LeBlanc says he's never thrown out as much lobster as he has this year.

More talks to come

"The reality for me is, a dead lobster goes in the garbage. So, it's worth zero. So a lobster that's alive and kicking is worth something to me and it's fine that a fishermen comes in and says, 'Well, when I got to the wharf, the lobster was alive, then it's no longer my problem,'" he said.

"Well, it is, in a sense. I need to process that lobster, and I need to do it when that lobster's in good shape."

LeBlanc says overall the price remains steady for lobster — $2.75 a pound for canners and $3.25 per pound for market lobster.

But he says there's a lot of work to be done between fishermen and processors after the season winds down.

Earlier this month, processors won a court-ordered 10-day injunction to keep the protesting fishermen off their property.

The fishermen argued a glut of cheap lobster from Maine had driven the price down to a 30-year low of about $2 per pound and they needed at least $4 to survive.

The two sides reached a deal on Aug. 10, with fishermen getting about 50 cents more per pound than what had previously been offered.