Nfld. & Labrador

Lobster prices too dear: processors

An association that represents fish processors says the price that fishermen want for lobsters is too high but it's not saying what it considers a reasonable price.
Fishermen and processors can't agree on a price for Lobster this spring. (CBC)

An association that represents fish processors says the price that fishermen want for lobsters is too high but it's not saying what it considers a reasonable price.

"If processors buy lobsters in Newfoundland and Labrador today they will lose money," said George Joyce, the executive director of the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL).

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman is now considering a proposal to allow Newfoundland and Labrador fishermen sell their lobster outside the province.

The Fish Food and Allied Workers union said it's necessary for fishermen who can't sell lobster in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The union said it has been advised by Joyce that a number of companies met in Gander last week and made a decision to cease buying lobster.

"They're showing total disrespect for the legislation that the legislature put in place to deal with fishery collective bargaining and, quite frankly, if that's the case, I think they should be told that their closed shop is gone," said union president Earle McCurdy earlier this week.

The union met with a SPONL committee in Corner Brook on April 11 to negotiate lobster prices, but SPONL did not respond to a price offer from the union, nor did it participate in a lobster price hearing conducted by the provincial Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel, which has the responsibility to settle price disputes in the fishery.

The union said it was the only party that appeared before the panel in the lobster price hearing on April 15.

The panel accepted the union's proposal for a formula tying the raw material price to market prices in New England. The panel's decision is binding on all buyers.

The formula established a price of $4.26 per pound for the week April 17-23, and $4.23 for the week from April 24-30 but the companies said they can't afford the price set by the panel.

About six million pounds of lobster are harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador annually. It is the principal fishery for many small boat enterprises, particularly on the south, southwest and west coasts of Newfoundland.

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