New plan exit strategy for lobster fishermen
A new $18 million program announced by the federal and provincial governments Friday will serve as an exit strategy for some struggling lobster fishermen on the southwest and west coasts of Newfoundland.
The governments are putting money towards a trap reduction program that will reduce the number of lobster traps by 47 thousand and retire between 200 and 300 fishing enterprises. That plan comes after less demand and lower prices for lobster.
"The product that they could sell was negatively impacted by unfavourable exchange rates. So, this has led to consistently low incomes for harvesters," said Provincial Fisheries Minister Darin King.
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union worked with the governments on the sustainability and conservation plan and is pleased with the result.
"This is good news. It's a good day for us. We look forward to getting this up and running," said president Earle Mccurdy.
Mccurdy said the plan will make the lobster fishery more sustainable and improve the incomes for people left in the industry. Fishermen who do decide to sell back their lobster licence will have to agree to retire their fishing enterprise completely.
Some fishermen who attended the announcement in St. John's said they are ready and willing to take that step.
"I think it can be a win-win for everybody in the lobster industry. People who want to get out of the industry, there's going to be an opportunity for that ... and those that remain, they're going to have a chance to improve their income. So, I think it's a win-win," said Loomis Way, a fisherman from Green Island Cove.
Mildred Skinner, a fish harvester from Harbour Breton, said she thinks lobster fisherman will jump at the chance to retire their enterprises.
"This will allow our older harvesters to leave the industry with a bit of money, a bit of dignity, but ... it will be providing a future and a foundation for our younger harvesters," said Skinner.