Some lobster fishermen in southeastern New Brunswick say emotions are easing after two days of tension and protests and they're focusing on the opening day of the fishing season.
The blockades seem to have stopped as of Saturday morning, according to Jeff Parsons, a fisherman and board member of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.
Fishermen have been blockading processing plants to protest the influx of American lobsters on the market.
Processing plants are cashing in on exceptionally low prices for lobster in Maine — about $2 per pound. Lobster fishermen in the province have said they can't take less than $3.75 per pound.
Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp met with the Maritime Fishermen's Union in Fredericton Friday and a processor to diffuse the situation and ensure the lobster season on the Northumberland Strait opens as scheduled next week.
Now, the processors have agreed to pay a base price of $2.50 for canners and $3 for market lobsters.
The province has also agreed to negotiate extra compensation for the fishermen, according to Christian Brun, the head of the union.
Olscamp says the compensation will not be a subsidy; it is allowed under trade rules. He says it's not a precedent for future glut-induced price drops because this was an emergency situation.
Fishermen also blockaded plants that have been importing the cheap American lobsters.
Parsons says "Everybody has a problem and the problem is everybody tells us their sob story and we're at the bottom, and we have no where to pass anything on beyond us. So the price is low, it comes to us, and that's the bottom line. We can't pass the buck, as they say."
He says the mood among fishermen now depends on the season.
"If quality's good, and prices maybe — and quality's a little better than expected, and prices move up from that, then probably everything will stay calm. But, you know, it's going to depend a lot on catches and quality and where the price moves from. All we've been guaranteed is a minimum. So we're hoping for more."
Parsons says the arranged price means the fishermen will head out on the season's opening day of Aug. 9.
Gilles Theriault, a fisheries consultant, says the agreements do ensure the fishermen get on the water for the opening day.
However, he says the processors will be under a lot of pressure to buy New Brunswick lobsters at a reasonable price.
"We need to set up a system by which fishermen and processors sit down at a table before fishing season to avoid crisis like this," Theriault said.