A levy on every pound of lobster landed in the Maritimes is one of the key recommendations of a panel established by the region's fisheries ministers.

'An industry that has been struggling instead of cooperating, fishing for quantity instead of value, fighting over pennies and losing dollars.'- Lobster panel report

The panel was set up to deal with problems in the industry, such as low prices, that go back as far as 10 years.

The panel recommends a one cent per pound levy to be paid by fishermen, and an additional one cent per pound to be paid by onshore buyers.

The money would fund a new lobster market intelligence institute and develop a comprehensive marketing campaign, in a partnership with government.

Setting prices before season starts

The panel suggested a mechanism needs to be developed for determining the price of lobster before lobster fishermen set their traps.

Under the current system, fishermen can be a week or more into the season before they are told the price they are getting for their lobster.

The mechanism would be based in legislation, but would not be mandatory, the panel suggests. Should a particular group negotiate a price through the mechanism, however, that would become a legal minimum price for fishermen and buyers in that group.

The panel consulted extensively with stakeholders in the industry, and found a great deal of dissent.

"These messages portray an industry that has been struggling instead of cooperating, fishing for quantity instead of value, fighting over pennies and losing dollars and asking others to solve their problems," the panel wrote in its report.

Lobster in Atlantic Canada is a billion-dollar industry, employing thousands of Maritimers, with 90 per cent of Canadian lobster landed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.