Cooperation among regional lobster fishermen will go a long way in promoting the product to an international market, a Lobster Council of Canada spokesperson told Island fishermen at the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association's annual general meeting this weekend.
Geoff Irvine provided an update from the council during the association's AGM workshop Saturday at the Rodd Royalty Inn.
Irvine called for a coming together of the different associations and provinces involved in the industry.
"We're getting killed out there in the market," said Irvine. "The beef guys, the pork guys and other seafood guys are really eating our lunch.
"We have to fund an aggressive promotional campaign and we have to work together."
The call to work together was notable given the tension between the lobster fisheries in P.E.I. and New Brunswick over carapace size.
Irvine said the lobster fishery in Maine has an easier job of promoting itself because it fits under one state legislature.
The lobster fishery on the east coast of Canada, on the other hand, needs the cooperation of several associations, provincial governments and the federal government, he said.
Irvine added that the council doesn't have a budget to promote lobster and relies on cooperation with the government.
One such promotion campaign in the past year was a "Lobster Academy" funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
The campaign saw international journalists stay in St. Andrews, N.B., for three days. The council took the journalists for a ride on a lobster boat, as well as a tour of a processing plant.
"We indoctrinated them extensively in the Canadian lobster industry," Irvine said, adding that the journalists later returned home to write articles promoting the industry. "It was an excellent way to get our message out to foodies, chefs and individuals around the world."
PEIFA managing director Ian MacPherson provided an update on the association's own branding, marketing and promotional initiatives.
MacPherson said selling a consistent quality product is necessary in order to create a successful brand.
Lobster quality control was more heavily discussed by aquatic science consultant Dr. Jean Lavallee.
Lavallee discussed quality from a handling perspective and described lobster as being "like a gas tank with a one-way gauge on a car."
"The fuel in that tank is the lobster's quality," said Lavallee. "Every time we handle that lobster, we take some of that fuel out… and it's possible to retain the quality but it's very difficult to put quality back in."
Lavallee said a decline in quality is often caused by a lobster becoming stressed. This can include stress from rough handling, low oxygen, change in temperature, toxicity and salinity.
Other information sessions Saturday saw lobster biologist Robert MacMillan give an annual lobster resource monitoring update, while department of fisheries and oceans technician Dheeraj Busawon explained how scientists are able to gain information on where a bluefin tuna originated by examining the fish's inner ear bone.
More on Saturday's PEIFA information sessions will be published in Monday's print edition of The Guardian…