Lobster fishermen wary of Maritime panel report

Lobster fishermen say they'll carefully examine the recommendations put forward by a three-province panel looking at the future of the industry.

Panel recommends levy to start marketing campaign to boost industry

Lobster fishermen say they'll carefully examine the recommendations put forward by a three-province panel looking at the future of the industry.

The Maritime Lobster Panel was set up in the wake of the spring's maritime-wide protest by fishermen looking for better prices.

The creation of the panel followed an unprecedented tie-up by lobster fishermen in all three Maritime provinces.

They returned only after the provinces promised a panel would come up with a plan to help boost prices.

Thursday, the panel’s report was released with 33 recommendations.

Among them, a levy on every pound of lobster landed so that money could be used to market the product.

“Obviously we need to market our lobster,” said Ian MacPherson of the P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association. “It’s a very competitive marketplace out there. The catches have been healthy and looks like they’re going to remain so.”

The panel also suggested lobster prices should be set before fishermen head out for the season. Usually, the price is set a week before the season begins.

The panel found a lack of trust between fishermen and buyers.

“We have to work together as a group to make the fixes that are necessary for this to move forward,” said Jeff Malloy of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association. “We hope that these communications with the fishermen’s organizations will work.”

“It was a very tough year,” said MacPherson. “A divisive year in certain areas last year. But we want all sectors of the supply chain to do well. And when the business thrives, it’s great for P.E.I., great for Atlantic Canada and it’s great for Canada.”

Both the fishermen and the processors say they'll review the 33 recommendations and 100 page report before taking an official position on the report.

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