Prince Edward Island lobster landings this year are up 5.6 per cent over last year but the landed value has actually dropped a whopping $22 million.
The P.E.I. Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development released figures this week showing total landings in 2013 for Prince Edward Island’s three lobster districts combined were 28,768,817 pounds, compared to 27,235,880 pounds last year. The value to the fishermen, however, dropped from $113,756,871 in 2012 to $91,385,246, according to department calculations.
Landed value for the previous three years were: 2011 - $79,595,000; 2010 - $82,382,000 and 2009 - $71,895,000.
“The only thing promising about the catch being up is that the stocks are alive and well,” said P.E.I. Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Ron MacKinley.
The troubling part, he stressed, is fishermen are not making any money fishing them.
“If the price had been up around $4 or $4.25 a pound, the fishermen might have been able to turn a small profit, but you’ve got to look at the cost of bait and the cost of fuel and the cost of the hired people - everything is going up but the price of lobsters to fishermen at the wharves,” MacKinley said.
The increase in landings this year follows a 31 per cent increase last year. Landings in LFA 26A took a 11.1 per cent jump this year, while LFAs 24 and 25 both recorded 3.9 per cent increases, for an Island-wide increase of 5.6 per cent.
Spring fishermen received $2.75 for their canners and $3.25 for their markets while fall fishermen started out at $2.50 and $2.75 a pound and received a 25-cent increase around the midpoint of their season.
MacKinley acknowledged the growth in landings across North America is creating a pushback on prices.
“Still, you’ve got to find markets and that’s one of the biggest (issues) facing the industry, is to be able to find markets in order to work on the supply and demand basis,” the minister said.
Despite the low prices, the Fisheries minister drew comfort from the small price increase during the fall season.
“That tells me there’s a demand, and that’s good,” he said.
MacKinley is awaiting the report of the three-person lobster panel which the Fisheries Departments from the three Maritime provinces helped establish earlier this year. It’s due to be released Nov. 7 in Amherst, N.S.
MacKinley said it will be up to fishermen and their organizations to decide whether they accept the recommendations that might be in the report.
“They’ve got to take their own destiny into their own hands and they are going to have to decide what they’re going to do. All we can do is show them some figures and maybe suggest to them what should be done.”