The P.E.I. government should be more active in establishing a live lobster holding facility that could help fishermen get better prices, says Liberal backbencher Charlie McGeoghegan.

Some south shore lobster fishermen are on the water Wednesday setting traps, and will bring the first catch of the spring season ashore Thursday.

McGeoghegan is suggesting government take a lead role in developing a live lobster holding facility. The idea has been tossed around for years. McGeoghegan said holding onto premium, hard-shell live lobster until the season is over would fetch better prices than sending everything to be processed.

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It was suggested in fisheries committee meetings that more live lobster exports could improve prices, says Charlie McGeoghegan. (CBC)

"One of the ideas that come up at [the legislature's fisheries] committee this winter was to have a model similar to the grain elevators, where fishermen could take lobsters to a central location with a refrigerated live holding facility so that they could be sold in either July or August, when the most premium price could be gotten for them," he said.

During question period Wednesday, Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley said his department set aside almost $500,000 through the Island Community Fund to help local non-profit groups develop their own lobster holding facilities, but most of the money went unclaimed.

He said it's not government's role to buy and sell lobster for Island fishermen.

In a report on the lobster industry last year, Colin Younker said P.E.I. should explore the potential for exporting more live lobster, but shouldn't invest in increased holding capacity without conducting a feasibility study.