Lobster Council earns support of Senate committee
A Senate report is praising the work of the Lobster Council of Canada, despite some complaints from fishermen that the council is silent on issues important to them.
Some fishermen have criticized the council for not stepping into the lobster price dispute this spring. P.E.I. fishermen tied up their boats for almost a week in May in protest over low prices.
The Senate lobster fishery report calls for governments to continue funding the Lobster Council, until industry can fully fund its work. P.E.I. Senator Elizabeth Hubley, the committee's deputy chair, knows there has been some controversy, but her committee feels the council is playing a crucial role tackling a range of problems, including low prices and finding new markets.
"Well, who's going to do that? Is that the fishermen? No, I would say not," Hubley told CBC News.
"I would say there has to be a body representing the industry, promoting that industry and I believe the Lobster Council of Canada will fulfill that."
Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Halifax-based council, is thrilled to get the Senate committee's support. He defended the council's decision to stay out of the price dispute.
"Situations like that, we don't speak for the harvesters. They have to speak for themselves," said Irvine.
"We represent the harvesters, the buyers and the processors and everybody in the value chain. So it would have been irresponsible for us to say anything. What would we have said?"
Irvine never expected 100 per cent support in the fragmented lobster fishery, but he believes the majority of groups involved stand behind the work the Council is doing.