The executive director of the PEI Fishermen's Association said he doesn't share the concerns of fishermen in New Brunswick that a glut of Maine lobster on the market will hurt demand and prices for product from the Maritimes.

On Thursday, New Brunswick fishermen tried to shut down three fish plants to prevent them from processing fish from the U.S. Lobster from Maine has been selling for about $2 per pound.

Ian MacPherson, executive director of the fishermen's association, said his organization is keeping an eye on Atlantic Canada's neighbours to the south.

"We're monitoring the situation, but we're feeling that fair and equitable prices will be paid to our fishers this fall. I think there's a good demand," MacPherson said. "And all the spring stock is gone so we see that as being a positive sign."  

MacPherson said the Maine lobster is softshell, and there's a separate market with better demand for P.E.I. hardshell lobster.

The fall season opens August 9.

Keeping prices high

The fishermen's association also met with Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley to talk about lobster prices. MacKinley said fishermen have come up with a number of ideas to try to keep prices higher when the P.E.I. season opens next week.

He said he can't yet say what those are, but that Island fishermen won't push back the opening of their season, even though New Brunswick seafood processors asked them to do so.

MacKinley said there are too many drawbacks to a delayed season. "We want to open it now because what'll happen then is if we delay it, the water gets rough in September there'll be no lobster to catch," he said. 

"October, they want to go back three weeks, the weather gets bad in the province. Secondly is, the longer the season goes here, the more our lobsters will start molting at the end of the season."

The Maritime Fishermen's Union in New Brunswick said its members were also asked to push back their season. They also refused.

Maine fishermen have no quotas

Meanwhile, it looks like the big catches in Maine will continue. There are no quotas there and Maine fishermen show no sign of slowing down.

Jon Carter fishes for lobster in Hulls Cove, Maine, near Bar Harbour. He said fishermen's catches are biggest when the lobsters shed their shells, and this year that happened early.

"We are catching outrageous numbers. We had a huge glut on for a while. I think the glut might be getting cleaned up a little bit now but there's still some areas that are catching obscene numbers of lobsters per trap," Carter said.

He said lobster are so plentiful this year they are dying in crates without buyers. Because there are no quotas, Carter said there are too many lobsters and too few buyers. He said Maine fishermen don't support the idea of a quota.

But since the lobster are so plentiful this year, the only way Maine fishermen can make money is selling big numbers to fish processors in New Brunswick for $2.10 a pound.

"I can't call my fellow fishermen and tell them to stay home and stop fishing till we clean the glut up or we make a larger demand for the product because that's considered price fixing and collusion," Carter said.

"Everybody could voluntarily do it but to get 5,000 guys to stay home is impossible."