Terrible lobster season focus of new plan
P.E.I. Fishermen's Association wants revamp of loan program
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association has released a 10-point strategy to help deal with poor prices in the lobster industry.
Lobster prices hovered around $3 a pound during the spring lobster fishery, which closes this week. Fishermen tied up their boats for a week in early May in protest, but prices didn't move and they returned to the water.
With the value of lobster at the wharf under the cost of production, association executive director Ian MacPherson said the season has left fishermen in financial difficulties at the end of the season.
"Obviously people that can make payments are, I think, going to make every effort to do that," said MacPherson.
"There's going to be a large number of people that are going to have a very tough year here. So we want to have mechanisms set up that the province is working with us on those arrangements [so] that people can continue on through this rough period."
In a news release Wednesday Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley committed to re-examining the province's low-interest loan program for fishermen in light of the results of the spring fishery.
MacPherson said the association would like to see more fishermen eligible for the program and extensions for those already on it. It also wants a repayment formula set up based on the amount of lobster that is caught and the price the fishermen receive for that product.
In addition to changes to the loan program, the association wants a shore price mechanism so fishermen know their price before they go fishing. It is also looking into forming more fishermen co-operatives, having more storage facilities, improving marketing, and developing a P.E.I. fishermen's brand.
MacPherson noted any measures that are adopted must have the support of fishermen.