Lobster fishermen on P.E.I. tied up their boats this weekend after prices dropped to $2. ((CBC))

Lobster fishermen in Miminegash were back on the water Monday after tying up their boats over the weekend.

The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association says they tied up for one day because prices in that area dropped to $2.

Prices are up slightly now, but still the lowest in years. As the spring season came to a close at the end of June, fishermen were getting close to $5 a pound.

"Fuel is too expensive, bait is too expensive, you can't afford to run around," said fisherman Thane Deagle.

"If it keeps going the way it is, I could end up losing my boat," said David Ellsworth.

Fishermen say Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley's comment last week on those low prices was insensitive.

MacKinley said, "Yes, that's a low price but there's a big supply and if you looked at three weeks ago, the fishermen worried they wouldn't be able to sell their lobsters, well they're getting their price,it's not a good price but let's hope that price can pick up."

The fishermen say MacKinley appeared unsympathetic and showed a lack of understanding of their way of life.

"Take away his position, demote him. That's a terrible thing to say," Deagle said.

On Monday, the minister backed away from those earlier comments.

"Anybody would be concerned with those prices because we could lose 50 per cent of our fall fishery if this price doesn't improve, because it's almost a disaster out there," MacKinley said.

Fix the problem

Gail Shea, MP for Egmont, said Sunday it's up to the lobster fishing industry to figure out a solution to low prices.

"Who better to decide for their industry than the fishermen themselves. So I think they have to have a discussion amongst themselves on what steps they could take to ensure they get a viable return from their fishery," Shea said.

The association is trying to determine why prices on the Island are lower than those in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The association, processors and government officials had a conference call about low lobster prices Monday afternoon.

Ian MacPherson, executive director of the association, said they're working on a strategic plan to help the fishery.

"We don't certainly want a reoccurrence of what we're going through this fall. It creates huge financial stress and pressure on people. Money that would be spent in the province just won't be there. So there's a lot of upside to us rolling up our sleeves and looking at some hard choices and solutions here," MacPherson said.

The $20,000 plan is funded by the P.E.I.-based Atlantic Shrimp Corporation and the province.

McInnis-Cooper will study how to improve the fishery, will ask fishermen to fill out a survey with their ideas, and host roundtable discussions with fishermen around the province.

The study will be finished this fall.