New Brunswick

Maine fishermen forced to sell lobster in N.B.

Fishermen in Maine say the glut of lobster on the market is the result of huge catches in their harbours.

Not enough local buyers for huge glut, they say

Lobster prices out of Maine are about $2.10 per pound. (CBC)

Fishermen in Maine say the glut of lobster on the market is the result of huge catches in their harbours and they need to sell north of the border to make money.

New Brunswick fishermen protested yesterday and prevented three tractor trailer loads of Maine lobster from unloading at processing plants in Cap Pelé and Shediac.

There are no quotas in Maine, and fishermen there show no sign of slowing down.

Jon Carter fishes for lobster in Hulls Cove, Maine, near Bar Harbor.

He says fishermen see the biggest catches when lobster shed their shells, and this year that happened early.

"We are catching outrageous numbers. We had a huge glut on for a while, I think the glut might be getting cleaned up a little bit now, but there's still some areas that are catching obscene numbers of lobsters per trap," Carter said.

Since fishermen in Maine don't have limits on how much they can catch, there are too many lobsters and too few buyers, Carter said.

Even so, he doesn't like the idea of a quota, and says neither do his fellow fishermen.

But since the lobster are so plentiful this year, the only way Maine fishermen are making money is by selling big numbers to fish processors in New Brunswick for $2.10 a pound.

"I can't call my fellow fishermen and tell 'em to stay home and stop fishing until we clean the glut up or we make a larger demand for the product because that's considered price fixing and collusion," Carter said.

"Everybody could voluntarily do it but to get 5,000 guys to stay home is impossible."

Carter says it isn't normal, but in his harbour there are lobsters dying in crates because they can't find buyers.

Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp is trying to organize a meeting with lobster fishermen and fish plant owners to help settle the dispute.