Native lobster fishermen don't get union price top-up

Lobster fishermen on the Northumberland Strait say they're going to refuse part of a price top-up because aboriginal fishermen aren't getting the same deal.
N.B. lobster fishermen say it's unfair Aboriginal fishermen don't get the same top-up as members of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. (CBC)

Lobster fishermen in New Brunswick say they're going to refuse part of a price top-up because aboriginal fishermen aren't getting the same deal.

The new price deal, agreed upon Friday, is supposed to give fishermen $3 a pound for canning lobster and $3.50 for market lobster.

That's 50 cents more than what was proposed earlier this month in response to a glut of cheap lobster from the U.S., which was selling for about $2 per pound.

Processors will kick in 25 cents of the top-up.

The other 25 cents comes from the Maritime Fishermen's Union, because the province allowed the union to refinance a loan.

"We only have the means and tools that we have, so we put together what we could," said Christian Brun, the union's executive director.

But aboriginal fishermen aren't part of the MFU, so they're not eligible for that 25 cents from the union.

So fishermen like Blaine Daigle, who protested for a better price, are now saying they'll forego the 25 cents until native fishermen get it too.

"It's not right that they protested, they backed us up all the way, and they can't get their share," Daigle said. "So far, we're not taking it. They should have their share. We're all fishing the same animal for the same price, we believe."

The union agrees that it's up to the New Brunswick government to work out a separate top-up agreement with First Nations fishermen.

Both Brun and Daigle say despite the snag, it looks like fishermen will take to the water tomorrow to open their season.