PEI

P.E.I. lobster fishermen vote to market own product

Lobster fishermen across Prince Edward Island have voted to take the marketing of their product into their own hands.

Vote 76 per cent in favour of lobster commodity board

Lobster fishermen across Prince Edward Island have voted to take the marketing of their product into their own hands. 

They want to create a lobster commodity board and voted 76 per cent in favour of it. About 650 fishermen were registered to vote. 
Ian MacPherson, executive director, P.E.I. Fishermen's Association (CBC)

Ian MacPherson, the executive director of the Prince Edward Island's Fishermen Association, said having their own board would allow them to have more input and be a part of the solution against low prices. 

"We want to tell the world not only about our live [product], but our processed product and how excellent it is. And you've got to tell people, you can't just expect people to know that," said MacPherson. 

The creation of the board would allow the association to collect a per pound levy on lobster caught with one cent coming from the fisherman and one cent from the processor. 

This could generate about $600,000 a year that would go directly into marketing efforts to promote P.E.I. lobsters. 

Ian McIsaac of the P.E.I. Marketing Council said the creation of the commodity board could help drive the price up. 

"I think this will help the lobster industry as it has helped the dairy industry, and the egg industry, and the chicken industry," he said.

The Marketing Council "Supervises the creation and operation of producer boards, commissions and groups that regulate and control the production, sale, processing, marketing, transportation and pricing of natural products," says its website.

P.E.I. lobster fishermen, along with those in other Atlantic provinces have been dealing with historically low prices the last few years. 

"If they are able to pool their money, pool the resources, they have basically the same product," McIssac said.

"It's all about spending that money to get the best return."

Getting the go ahead

The marketing council and fishermen's association will meet to discuss the results of the vote. 

If both groups give the go ahead and the provincial government signs off, there could be a commodity board in place by the start of the lobster fishing season. 

McIsaac says more co-operation between the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec in marketing efforts could be in the future.

The Lobster Council of Canada says if that coordination does happen, it will help with marketing efforts across the region.

Buyers in Nova Scotia rejected the idea of a levy during a vote in February.

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