© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I Fishermens Association. FILE PHOTO
Two recent reports on the crisis in the lobster fishery are an urgent call to action that industry and governments can’t ignore, says P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association president Mike McGeoghegan.
McGeoghegan made the remarks during a Thursday morning news conference in Charlottetown responding to two recent reports on the industry: the first released by the Maritime Lobster Panel set up by Atlantic premiers; and the second by former P.E.I. auditor general Colin Younker, who was commissioned by the provincial fisheries minister, Ron MacKinley.
“The lobster fishery has been devastated by low prices that see fishers earning 25 per cent less than they did seven years ago while costs continue to rise. The twelve hundred fishers, their families and their communities can’t sustain this kind of economic hardship," McGeoghegan said Thursday.
"These reports don’t answer all the questions, but they are an important starting point.”
Having reviewed the reports, the PEIFA says there are some key recommendations the industry and the government need to act upon.
The PEIFA supports a legislative-based price setting mechanism based on independent analysis of market conditions and the cost of production.
The fishermen also support establishing a Maritime Market Intelligence Institute, "provided it has the authority to access cost of production data from fishers and processors in order to support a price setting mechanism," a news release from the PEIFA says.
It would also like to see a levy to support generic marketing of lobster and government and industry investment in new product development.
The PEIFA says it will ask Premier Robert Ghiz to use the Council of Atlantic Premiers as the forum for ensuring region-wide government leadership in addressing the lobster crisis.
“Clearly, there are details to be worked out on all of these issues. But there is an urgency and the time to act is now. We will do our part to engage fishers in P.E.I. and the Maritimes," said McGeoghegan. "Our elected leaders also need to recognize the role they have to play."