Nova Scotia lobster levy gets mixed reviews in Sambro
$1.8M could be raised from the province's fishermen
Lobster fishermen in Sambro have mixed opinions on the idea of paying a one cent a pound levy to fund a generic marketing campaign to promote the tasty crustacean.
"I think it's totally unnecessary. We've survived with the past 50 years without this stuff," said Nick Henneberry, one of a handful of people who turned out for a government sponsored meeting about the levy on Friday.
"More involvement. More bureaucracy."
Paddy Gray, another lobster fisherman, believes fishermen are ready to be convinced.
"If they could see how this money is going to be administrated, who is going to administrate it — I think we probably could get consensus," Gray said after meeting.
Maritime-wide levy proposed in 2013
This month, Nova Scotia's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is holding 19 meetings across the province to present fishermen and buyers with the levy proposal.
The levy would take one cent per pound from fishermen and another cent per pound from buyers to pay for a generic marketing campaign run by the industry.
"It will only work if everybody is on the same program," said Doug Garrsion, of Sambro Fisheries.
"There's no sense spending money to promote Nova Scotia lobster if P.E.I. is promoting P.E.I. lobster and New Brunswick, New Brunswick lobster. Unless everybody is in on it, we're just competing against each other."
In Nova Scotia, the levy would raise $1.8 million annually from fishermen.
A Maritime-wide levy was proposed in November 2013 by an advisory panel chaired by three maritime fisheries ministers. At the time, the industry was struggling with low prices.
Seeking buy in
Fishermen in P.E.I. voted in favour of the plan last fall. Nova Scotia has been slower to sign on — a reflection, perhaps, of the independent streak in the biggest lobster fishing area in southwest Nova Scotia
This year, prices have also rebounded and the initiative stumbled in 2014 when Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell mused about a five cent per pound levy.
"It's extremely important to hear from them," said Karen Wong-Petrie of the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Wong-Petrie said the plan needs buy in and that is what these meetings will determine.
"If it's an industry-led initiative, it needs industry support," she said. "We need to know that this is a direction the industry wants to go."