Regional fishermen must work together, says lobster council

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Geoff Irvine, of the Lobster Council of Canada, provides an update during the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association's annual general meeting Saturday at the Rodd Royalty Inn. Guardian photo

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…

Organizations: Lobster Council of Canada, Rodd Royalty Inn, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Department of fisheries and oceans

Geographic location: Iceland, P.E.I. Fishermen, New Brunswick Maine Canada

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Recent comments

  • Steven
    March 03, 2013 - 18:36

    Lots of local business supporters here. I think if we looked at business on P.E.I in general I don't think there is too many that haven't had government help at some point in time, whether it's through start up grants, line of credit or even pnp money and wage share programs. I don't know who you all work for but it must be some of the few businesses that received absolutely no help from any level of government otherwise I guess you really would have no right to point fingers about fishermen drawing EI. Work for the government you say....still tax payers money, anyway last time I looked a fisherperson pays a substantial amount of tax in the spring sometimes more than taken out while on the EI program. There is more to the story than just fishing and than claiming EI ask any real fisherperson and they will tell you and as for the rest of you your ignorance about the subject is astounding, try supporting your local fishers, farmers etc and P.E.I as a whole benefits.

  • LesterTheLobster
    March 03, 2013 - 14:42

    Every Lobsterman in the Maritimes should be a free agent. No zones, No subsidies, No EI. Just treated up front and fairly as a free market business just like a Trucker or a Pizza Shop. Lobsterman won the the barely working mans lottery a long time ago and have been addicted to Taxpayer hand outs way too long. Get serious or get out like any other business.

  • phil
    March 03, 2013 - 12:57

    i agree as well i work year round and am sick of funding fisherman's 8 week work year

    March 03, 2013 - 08:50

    We all have eaten lobster from the different provinces and pei lobster is the best hands down and its not just the lobster. Keep away from one brand because they are not maritime lobster or we wouldn't be able to tell the difference by taste. Why mix the best with ok doesnt make since to me.

  • joke
    March 02, 2013 - 19:30

    Everthing was going good till Gail the shame showed up...defending her ei story...then i lost my supper...what a joke she is

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    March 02, 2013 - 18:23

    I am not a fisherman, but I understand how a (supposed) free market is supposed to work. Tell them to shove their recommendations, stick to our own niche markets. Listen, the Lobster Council of Canada is only interested in self preservation. BIGGER IS NECESSARILY BETTER. Why join an organization if they tell you how to run your business. Tell them that you do not need them, they need you. If they control all the catch dictating to you who or how to sell your product, they also control pricing overall. You will get better prices by being on your own and finding your own buyers. A rich man hires 20 people to hit the Maritimes to buy all our lobster, corners the market by paying better prices, putting the other buyers out of business, then on future buys he offers less than the catch is worth. This is how the big guys do everything. They come, get you to depend on them (buyers), then when there are no more buyers they lower the prices. They may not even want to buy all you catch, only part, my point being, by that time you have no choices. This happens on PEI all the time.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      March 03, 2013 - 10:35

      In my original statement i stated "BIGGER IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER". Sometimes I think the Guardian screws up peoples comments. But is it being done on purpose or is it a mistake?

    • Plenty
      May 27, 2015 - 08:59

      "Lobster Council of Canada is only interested in self preservation" SO careful who you trust. Check and see who the Lobster Council of Canada really is.

  • jrsplace
    March 02, 2013 - 16:40

    The have already been working together but it was to drain every penny possible out of the EI system for as many years as they could .And to sell catch for cash after getting max EI claims. But with the new CRA fraud investigation coming up that is all about to change . Even that fuel tank analogy in the story reminds me why do we need home heating tanks inspected when their are thousands of fishing boats with 200 gallons of diesel sitting right on the water in homemade fuel tanks that never get inspected at all .

    • CRA is a coming
      March 04, 2013 - 17:28

      Yes Jr,it will not be long for a CRA auditor to figure out a fisherman goes scallop fishing in the fall,about 2-3 k to get ready 220-350 a day in fuel,yet only average catch is 20 lbs i THINK i would be lossing sleep if I did the same,oh well the axe is a coming

  • intobed
    March 02, 2013 - 15:35

    "Irvine added that the council doesn't have a budget to promote lobster and relies on cooperation with the government." In other words - "Government give us money!" I am getting fed up with businesses, farmers, and fishermen always with their hand out, so they can make more money. Raise the money yourselves if you think this idea is so important!

    • Ken
      March 03, 2013 - 10:43

      Most Heartily Agree ! Whatever happened to the idea of having a small levy of a few pennies per pound contributed by fishermen and processors toward a marketing promotion fund ? Time to get with it, have a say in how the marketing promotion is directed and maybe review what the Lobster Council has really not accomplished and look at the high overhead of its operation, make sure it is not just another bureaucratic exercise that talks and talks at meetings, hires high priced Consultants and travels around at big expense. Make it accountable to the fishermen, not just the buyers and processors.

    • farmer joe
      March 03, 2013 - 12:39

      Again you show your ignorance! Farmers do contribute to marketing efforts. I am a dairy, beef and potato farmer and I contribute thousands of dollars each year to marketing boards through checkoffs. We support the marketing of our products ourselves (and this drives the Island economy),