New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy lobster fishery opens

Fishermen are hoping that the opening of the fall lobster season for southwestern New Brunswick will allow them to break even as the lobster price remains low.

Fishermen are hoping that Tuesday's opening of the fall lobster season for southwestern New Brunswick will allow them to break even as the lobster price remains low.

More than 300 lobster fishing boats will be setting traps in the Bay of Fundy even as continued uncertainty clouds the industry.

On Monday, fishermen such as Doug Belding were busy preparing for the opening of the lobster season in the area.

Belding was hoisting buckets of sardines and haddock onto his boat in Dipper Harbour to be used as bait for his 300 traps. 

He received $3.50 a pound for his lobster last year, short of the $5 a pound that he said he needs to break even.

So far, he understands that the price he'll get for his lobster this year may not be a lot better, so he's hoping to haul more of the crustaceans into his boat.

"Hoping that the volume of lobsters is up to offset the price. If we could catch 3,000 pounds more lobster at $4, it would equal out a normal year at $5," he said. "So this is the way we're playing the game."

Lobster numbers rising

For reasons scientists and fishermen cannot explain, lobster numbers in the Bay of Fundy have been climbing for years.

Last year's catch was more than 4,000 tonnes, which is four times the amount of lobster that was hauled in 15 years ago.

Greg Thompson, the president of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, said no matter the volume caught, it doesn't help sustainability for people in the industry. The time has come to shake things up, he said.

"We really have to make some changes in the way we operate, reduce our costs for catching lobsters and market a little smarter," he said. "And that's got to come from us."

Thompson said he is hoping the lobster will fetch $4 a pound this year. He said that's the new market reality that fishermen will have to get used to.

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