New Brunswick lobster fishermen brace for more low prices
Industry analysts expect that this year will be be worse than last year
With just a week to go before lobster traps are set for the spring season in northern New Brunswick, fishermen are bracing for another year of low prices.
Gilles Thériault, a fisheries consultant, said record breaking lobster catches in Maine once again are expected to drive prices down.
"The forecast is that we could see as much as another 10 to 15 per cent increase this year, and that's a lot of lobster when we are already producing world record-breaking production," Thériault said. "So it's very problematic."
Thériault said fishermen in southeastern New Brunswick will again be vulnerable because their catches tend to be lower and their eight week season, starting in August, is later in the year.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we're going to have another very difficult year price-wise," he said.
Thériault calls the situation for Zone 25, which covers the Northumberland Strait along the southeastern part of the province, "very serious" and predicts prices could be lower than last year — a troubling forecast for local fishermen.
Bobby Donelle, a fisherman in Petit-Cap, said he fished for $3 per pound last year, down from $4.50 per pound in 2009.
"We just managed to survive, keep our head out of the water and breathe," he said. "To be honest, it's not a good sign."
Donelle said fishermen in the province can't compete with the season in Maine, where "they fish just about all year round."
Guy Cormier has been fishing for more than 40 years, and says a long-term solution must be found.
"With the Americans, we need to sit down as an industry, we need to spend more than half a day, probably weeks, weeks in order to resolve our problems," he said.
Some fishermen say more protests — like the ones last summer — are inevitable during what many call a make or break year.