Ghiz calls for review of lobster market
Fishermen getting about $3 a pound
Premier Robert Ghiz says the province will review the lobster market to see if processors are offering fishermen a fair price.
Island fishermen continue to tie up their boats to protest low prices running around $3 a pound, which they say is not enough for them to break even. Maritime fishermen say rising fuel and bait costs are making harvesting unprofitable.
A series of meetings between processors and fishermen has failed to resolve the crisis.
"We’re not able to control the price within government," Ghiz said after meeting with members of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association on Monday afternoon.
"We can’t interfere in a private market that’s going, but what we can do is work with our fishers so they can maximize the price they get."
Ghiz said he’s asked former auditor general Colin Younker to oversee the independent review. He also said he’ll freeze payments for fishermen who receive low interest loans.
Michael McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fisherman's Association, said he didn't expected tensions to escalate so fast.
"All the processors had to do was pay us a fair price, this thing would have been over in five minutes. That didn't happen so now we’re in a spot where you are getting that tension amongst the fishing communities. We've tied up for over five days now. This is totally unacceptable."
The seafood processors say they can't afford to pay fishermen their asking price.
McGeoghegan said the association did ask the premier to top up lobster prices.
"We tried to have a conversation and it didn't go anywhere," he said.
While many fishermen kept their boats tied up on Monday, some went out in Tignish and SeaCow Pond.
The RCMP stood watch on the wharf as a precaution.
"There might be tension because people just don’t know what’s happening. For sure there’s going to be some people upset that some guys have gone out fishing and that’s going to create anxiety even from the ones who have gone out," said Sgt. Paul Gagne.
Meanwhile, provincial NDP leader Mike Redmond is calling on the government to recall the legislature to deal with the problems in the industry.
The protest spilled over into the other two Maritime provinces.
Nova Scotia's fisheries minister said he wants to set up a panel looking at both the price of lobster and the cost to catch it.
Sterling 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.