Lobster buyers impose 'unheard of' quotas on N.S. fishermen
Responding to a supply glut, lobster buyers drop prices, impose boat quotas on fishermen
Responding to a supply glut, lobster buyers have dropped prices and imposed boat quotas on hundreds of Nova Scotia lobster fishermen from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Eastern Shore.
"This is unheard of," says Nellie Baker Stevens, of the Eastern Shore Protective Fishermen's Association, speaking about the boat quotas.
Effective Friday, the 220 lobster fishermen who belong to the organization have been told buyers will take no more than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) per day.
Further east in Guysborough County, 400 other fishermen have a 600-pound (272-kilogram) limit. There are also quotas in the Gulf.
"We're concerned that this is something that is going to be used by buyers in the future," she said.
Buyer-ordered boat quotas were first introduced on P.E.I.
For fishermen who do not land anywhere close to 500 pounds (227 kilograms) per day, that move is largely symbolic — more concrete are dropping prices.
Fishermen on mainland Nova Scotia reported a 50-cent drop Friday to $3.75 per pound for market lobsters. In some places though, the price is higher.
"This is what happens when there is a glut," says Baker Stevens.
Buyers contacted by CBC declined to speak on the record about the situation, which one described as "events colliding."
The province's nine-week spring lobster fishery in eastern Nova Scotia was delayed because of ice and bad weather.
Last week's warmer weather and big lobster landings in eastern Nova Scotia coincided with huge catches from the larger southwest Nova Scotia lobster fishery in the final week of their six-month season which ended May 31.
The result has been a huge backlog of live lobsters.
Some in eastern Nova Scotia blame the glut on fishermen from southwest Nova Scotia — which itself lost many days of fishing because of winter storms.
"We're not happy that eastern Nova Scotia is being penalized by the glut situation brought on by southwest Nova," says Nellie Baker Stevens.
She and others do not want the two seasons overlapping.