August 4, 2012

Maine tries to defuse low-priced lobster war with Canada

Officials consider setting a minimum price in Canada after protesters there blocked a shipment from Maine.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Maine truck driver Leonard Garnett of Steuben talks with police at a Shediac, New Brunswick, processing plant after fishermen blocked his truck with the intention of leaving his load of lobsters to rot.

Greg Agnew / Moncton Times & Transcript

Garnett said some protesters started to put stickers on this truck, protesting the importation of Maine lobsters.

"We had a heated discussion over that," he said.

Garnett got even more upset when some protesters threatened to spray-paint his trailer and others opened its rear doors, exposing the lobsters to warm air before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police closed them.

Then the protesters tampered with one of his front tires, causing the police to call in a repair truck to fix the valve and fill the tire with air, which cost Garnett $151.

Finally, the protesters told Garnett that if he left the trailer and tons of lobsters, they would let him go. "I wasn't leaving it there," he said, pointing out that his insurance rates would rise.

Garnett said he was never really afraid that protesters might try to hurt him, although he was adamant about protecting his trailer.

"I come from Down East Maine and I don't think I know enough to be scared," he said.

About a dozen of the protesters were causing most of the problems, Garnett said, and "as an overall group, they were very good people," including one protester who kept climbing next to his window, assuring him that things would be worked out.

Garnett said he sympathizes with the protesters, having seen the problems that low prices have caused for lobstermen in Maine.

"It's a no-win situation for either side," he said,

Police finally forced the protesters to give Garnett room to back up and leave. He said he took the lobsters to "an undisclosed location in Nova Scotia," where the load's owner -- who Garnett also declined to identify -- had found another buyer.

Garnett said he is looking forward to a couple of days off before his next job, which should be less eventful: hauling a load of frozen blueberries, inside Maine's borders. 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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