Lobster fishermen vote to continue strike
Lobster fishermen belonging to a group called the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen voted 205 to 72 to continue strike action at a meeting at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth this evening.
But, they also voted to check on their lobster traps on Saturday, which may effectively spell the end of the strike.
Organizers were disappointed by the small turnout — only 300 lobster fishermen out of 1,600 showed up. The number of protesting fishermen has been dwindling.
The group 1688 — named after the number of licences in zones 33 and 34 — wants fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia to stay in port until they're guaranteed a price of $5.50 a pound, about $1 more than they expect to get.
Fisherman Jeff Rose of Port Maitland voted to continue the strike and said the movement will work "if people stick together."
"Right now, there's a lot of families involved and a lot of families have boats and one by one they're losing them. We're just trying to take it back," he said.
But Rose conceded "there's going to be a lot of fishermen out there tomorrow and we're going to lose what we gain."
Rose said he will be among those going out to fish Saturday.
Sandy Stoddard voted against continuing the strike.
"I think it's time to put it to rest and say, 'Listen, we've showed you we can stand united,'" he said.
Fishermen say 50 per cent of the fleet in southwest Nova Scotia is fishing anyway, making any further strike action by a few hundred fishermen futile.
Earlier Friday, organizers had predicted the fishermen would vote to end the strike because they had made their point and got their message across about low prices.
Meanwhile, John Risley, president of Clearwater Fine Foods in Bedford, said the tension among fishermen is also affecting his business.
Risley said he's losing money, just like everyone else.
"The industry does not do well if one of the sectors of the industry is not doing well. In other words, this is a situation in which a rising tide sort of lifts all boats," he said Friday.
"So we don't come to work in the morning saying, 'Hey, how can we make sure that fishermen don't do well today?' That's not in our long-term interest."
Risley said it's time for fishermen and companies such as his to talk about working together.