Nova Scotia

Lobster levy to get review after Lobster Council of Canada criticism

Provincial governments in the Maritimes want a review of the publicly funded industry group pushing for a lobster levy to help promote the industry.

The three Maritime provinces put about $150,000 a year into Lobster Council of Canada

At town hall meetings across Nova Scotia earlier this year, fishermen were asked for their views and many said the levy was not needed. (The Associated Press)

Provincial governments in the Maritimes want a review of the publicly funded industry group pushing for a lobster levy to help promote the industry.

The review will be carried out this spring and summer and follows criticism of the Lobster Council of Canada, primarily from fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia.

Plans for a one cent per pound levy to promote Canadian lobster next year are moving ahead in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, but in Nova Scotia there is resistance.

At town hall meetings across Nova Scotia earlier this year, fishermen were asked for their views and many said the levy was not needed. In southwest Nova Scotia, support was particularly weak.

One of the reasons is a mistrust of the Lobster Council of Canada, the industry group pushing the levy, according to Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell.

Council seen as out of touch

"We had no idea we would get the results we did," he said. "We didn't think it was to this extent."

The three provinces put about $150,000 a year into the council.

But Colwell says the council is seen as out of touch.

To get connected, the provinces are paying for a consultant's review this summer, a move welcomed by lobster council executive director Geoff Irvine.

"We have significant public funding," he said. "It's very common and normal to do a review like this. We think it's important that we make sure we are relevant to the industry."

Irvine says the council has 85 members, representing harvesting groups and processors throughout the region.

Irvine acknowledges reaching the notoriously independent fishermen in Southwest Nova has been a challenge.

"We have many, many members there. We do lots of work there," he said. "But it's tougher because they don't have any real solid organization there to speak of, although that is changing."

 The same consultation meetings held earlier this year also revealed that fishermen didn't trust government either.

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