August 14, 2012

Lobster fishermen 'all in the same boat'

Even as an agreement averts a looming crisis in New Brunswick, lobstermen in Canada and Maine remain at the mercy of processors

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Jean-Pierre Cormier, the spokesman for a group of lobstermen on Aboiteau Wharf in Cap-Pele, New Brunswick, says, “We can’t fish for $2.50 a pound. How do you make a living on that?”

Photo by Gilles Landry

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In Maine, annual lobster landings have been going up steadily for the past several years and topped 100 million pounds for the first time last year. As prices for their catch drop, lobstermen are relying on quantity, not quality, to make ends meet.

The same is true for New Brunswick, but their lobstermen have more restrictions. Maine license holders can haul 500 to 800 traps and can fish any time of year. New Brunswick lobstermen are limited to 375 traps and can fish in certain zones only during certain times.

The Lobster Council of Canada has actually advocated for less fishing, not more, Parsons said, but it's a competitive industry. Telling lobstermen to stay home is no easy task.

Cormier, the lobsterman from Cap-Pele, said he doesn't want to go up against Maine lobstermen. He said New Brunswick's processors can handle both Maine lobsters and Canadian lobsters, as long as the price is consistent and fair.

As some lobstermen continue to insist on more money from processors, New Brunswick Premier David Alford said in an interview last week that his government will work with lobstermen on a solution but will not subsidize the industry.

He called the injunction a "good first step," but said it's not a long-term solution. The deal struck Friday represented concessions by both sides and will allow the lobster season to go forward. A long-term solution, though, is needed, Alford said.

Parsons said he's optimistic that the current struggle will lead to better days, eventually. For the first time in a long time last week, lobstermen and processors were sitting at the same table.

"Maybe this needed to happen," he said. "Maybe we'll look back a few years from now and say we're all better off."

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791- 6344 or at:

erussell@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

 

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Additional Photos

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Maurice Guimond manages the Moncton Fish Market in Moncton, New Brunswick. “Think about going into work one day and having your boss tell you that you’re going to make $2 less an hour. That’s what has happened to these lobstermen,” he said.

Photo by Gilles Landry

  


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