Some buyers shelling out more than $1M for lobster boat, licence

Talk on the wharves these days is all about the high price people are paying to get into lobster fishing — more than a million dollars in some cases.

'This is the seller's market right now'

The boat and gear are only part of the cost. The value of the lobster fishing license depends on average catch size in local harbours. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The purchase price of lobster fishing fleets is hitting new highs, according to a P.E.I. broker — in some cases people are paying more than $1 million to get into the lobster fishing business.

"I've never seen them this high before," said broker Mark Hackett of Tignish, P.E.I. "A million plus."

The high value of lobster landings, combined with large catch sizes in recent years, are driving up fleet prices, according to Hackett.

This is the seller's market right now. If you're buying, if they can can get the money, more power to them.— Mark Hackett

"The demand is high for licences … there's so many trying to buy right now it's driving the price up because there's very few sellers."

"There's not much other fisheries on the go that's making much money right now besides lobster fishing, so if you need to get in, you either got to get in or you get out."

In eastern P.E.I., fishermen say fleets in Naufrage, North Lake and Souris, P.E.I., have sold for jaw-dropping prices in recent months.

"Personally, I've had a couple of offers this fall and I wasn't even planning on selling," said Shelley Deagle, who fishes out of Naufrage.

"It was pretty tempting."

Deagle turned down the offers.

'I don't think I'd be able to sleep at night'

Young fishermen are wondering how they'll ever be able to afford their own fleet.

Shelley Deagle received two purchase offer last fall for her fleet in Naufrage, but she turned both down. "It was pretty tempting," she said. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"I want to but I just can't see it with the price of the fleets right now," said Nigel MacDonald, a 23-year-old fisherman out of Naufrage.

"I don't think I'd be able to sleep at night knowing I have that much every year to pay."

According to Hackett, some buyers are even mortgaging homes and taking on debt to make the math work.

Nigel MacDonald would like to buy a fishing fleet, but not at these prices. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"The bank will loan up to $400,000 on the licence itself and then 75 per cent of the value of the boat," Hackett said.

Hackett has 35 to 40 people looking to buy fishing fleets, he said, but few people wanting to sell.

"This is the seller's market right now," he said. "If you're buying, if they can can get the money, more power to them."

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About the Author

Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a CBC videojournalist on Prince Edward Island.

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