Review calls for Maritime-wide lobster prices
Report by former P.E.I. auditor general finds fishermen, processors, buyers all suffering
An independent review into low lobster prices has concluded a series of issues have hurt what fishermen are being paid on the wharf, but that processors and buyers are also suffering.
Prices have been pushed down by rising catches in Canada resulting in oversupply, poor exchange rates with the US and Europe, and a decline in processing capacity, according to the study.
The review by former P.E.I. auditor general Colin Younker was released Wednesday and concluded it's not just fishermen hit by low prices; lobster buyers and processors barely broke even over the past five years.
The study was commissioned in the spring after poor lobster prices forced some fishermen to leave their boats tied up.
Younker found that lobster landings in Canada increased about 22 per cent over five years.
Younker spoke with fishermen, buyers, processors, brokers and industry associations and makes a number of recommendations.
They include: exploring options to export more live lobster; and creating a mechanism to set prices that is transparent and used throughout the Maritimes.
Premier Robert Ghiz says the report shows collaboration needs to be paramount and that there is the capability of controlling the market in Atlantic Canada.
And federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said there must be more cooperation.
“I know this is a very difficult industry to bring together but I think that they have to think long and hard about whether or not they want status quo, or whether or not they’re going to come together,” she said.
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association calls the report a start.
"We don't know anything about the industry and it's time that stops,” president Mike McGeoghegan said.
“And that's what this report's really about. How do we break through all this mystery stuff in the lobster industry and get the facts on the table and get that to the fishermen.”