Lobster season starts again with no prices

P.E.I. lobster fishermen have begun another season without knowing how much they'll be paid for their catch.

Fishermen, processors still in talks over lobster price

Lobster boats sailed out of P.E.I. harbours last week despite the lack of a price for the catch. (Submitted by Rhonda Gallant)

P.E.I. lobster fishermen have begun another season without knowing how much they'll be paid for their catch.

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, said last spring fishermen would never again haul traps without knowing the price, but the season started as scheduled last week without a published price.

P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley says lobster industry members are continuing discussions over prices. (CBC)

Last fall, Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley said he wanted to run a pilot project on P.E.I. to have the price set in advance. The province paid a facilitator to sit down with fishermen and processors in a series of meetings. MacKinley said even though no price was set, trust was built between the two sides and so it wasn't a wasted effort.

"We had a facilitator in place, both sides all came together," he said.

"Let's hope this is a good price this spring.  But it's a working exercise (considering the) major dispute we had last year, and bringing them down and sitting at the same table. You take baby steps before you take giant steps."

Last year fishermen tied up their boats for days, refusing to empty their traps in protest of shore prices of $3 a pound.

MacKinley said fishermen and processors are scheduled to get together in a conference call later this week.

Fisheries ministers in the three Maritime provinces are hoping to set a Maritimes-wide lobster price in advance of the 2015 season. That was one of the recommendations contained in the Maritime Lobster Panel report issued in November 2013.

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