Lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia will be back on the water at first light on Tuesday, after hundreds tied up their boats to fight for better prices from seafood processors.
The protest is over, but the problem of low lobster prices at the wharf persists. The protesters said they’ve made their point and have enlisted the province's fisheries minister as an ally.
Maritime fishermen say rising fuel amd bait costs make harvesting unprofitable. Fishermen in Nova Scotia are receiving between $3.75 and $4 per pound. Some fishermen on the Eastern Shore have been getting about $4.50 a pound.
Sterling Belliveau said he wants to set up a panel looking at both the price of lobster and the cost to catch it.
"We're proposing that a panel be created to address the issue we're talking about here: soft lobster prices. This issue is very complex and we want the panel created to address that issue and a side note of that is also to find possible eficiencies in the fishing industry and I think the industry was open to the suggestions I put on the table tonight," he said after meeting with fishermen.
Belliveau said he wants to meet with the other fisheries ministers in the Maritimes and industry workers to examine ways the lobster fishermen can continue to make a living.
Fishermen said they hope Belliveau can pressure buyers to increase their prices.
"We have seen high costs particular to bait species to catch lobster. There’s ways of making this profitable and we are committed to that," Belliveau said.
In northern Nova Scotia, 400 crews stayed at the dock after voting to hold out for higher prices. Some fishermen in P.E.I., New Brunswick and Quebec were also in port.
Members of the P.E.I. fishermen's association met with Premier Robert Ghiz on Monday. He said the province will review the lobster market to see if processors are offering fishermen a fair price.
$3.75 to $4 a pound
The protest spilled over into New Brunswick last week, where lobster fishermen tied up and also said it's not worth their while to steam out of port for a product that won't cover the cost of fuel, bait and labour.
Daryl McIvor is one lobsterman who as not on the water Monday. He said the entire group voted to stick together on the issue.
"This is a historic event. We've proven in the past that we weren't able to stick together, so this time it seems to be actually gaining momentum rather than losing momentum," he said.
"We figured we'd stick together for another day and see what kind of progress we can make with our representatives meeting with the province and the processing sector."
Last week, there was last-minute appeal to lobster fishermen on the eastern shore for a one day tie up in solidarity with fishermen in the gulf.
About half heeded the call.
On Monday, boats were tied up all along the eastern shore, not in solidarity but because of high winds and bad weather.