New Brunswick

Lobster fishery hit by new protest

The recently-opened lobster fishery in eastern New Brunswick ran into a fresh controversy on Tuesday when about 100 fishermen staged a protest.

The recently-opened lobster fishery in eastern New Brunswick was the focus of more controversy on Wednesday after about 100 fishermen staged a protest.

Fishermen, mainly from the Elsipogtog First Nation, started the protest after a boat brought in more than the 800-pound limit of lobster that area fishermen had agreed to recently.

"People started getting upset. It was very unfair. All of us are capped at 800, some are even less, these guys can bring in whatever they want it upset the whole wharf the whole fisheries," Christopher Sock said.

Some fishermen have a processor in Neguac who has asked them to catch even more.

Antoine Vautour, the buyer for Berry Group, says the plant manager didn't know about the limit.

"He thought that it would be all right, with $1,500. It's not the fishermen's fault, it's not my fault," Vautour said.

Everett Sanipass, a band executive member, said the fishermen would allow the tractor trailer to leave peacefully. But the fishermen would continue to monitor the wharf to ensure the agreement was being respected.

Vautour says some fishermen lost at least $1,500 of lobsters because they couldn't unload their catch.

Sock says fishermen are tense and frustrated.

"We're just telling them just to be fair, just to keep it straight across, lobsters not going anywhere we just got to let the processors catch up and we'll keep going," Sock said.

Meanwhile, Sanipass said the fishermen have been asked to stay off the water Wednesday because the processing plants are already full.

"There was a lot of mortality with the lobster that's coming in. Higher percentage than as normal really delayed our production, it put us behind the eight ball," said Norm LeBlanc.

LeBlanc says the hot weather has been bad for the lobsters.

So far he's thrown out 40,000 pounds, worth about $100,000.

"We've held a certain limit to the fishers so they can come in fairly early so we can process the lobster on the same day and if we can do that we can limit the mortality that comes in," LeBlanc said.

Lobster season in eastern New Brunswick started on Monday after fishermen in the area held almost two weeks of protests.

Fishermen had been protesting outside processing plants in the region after learning the plants were processing cheap American lobster. Processors won a court-ordered injunction to keep the protesting fishermen off their property last Thursday.

A deal was struck late last week that would see the fishermen eligible for an extra 50 cents per pound. The processing plants and the Maritime Fishermen's Union would each pay 25 cents.

The deal means processors will pay $3 a pound for canners and $3.50 for market lobster.