MacKinley faces tough questions over lobster prices

Teresa Wright
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Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley says his department is working hard to try to improve lobster prices, but says solutions must be led by industry.

MacKinley faced a number of tough questions from both the Opposition Tories and from some of his own Liberal caucus members Tuesday at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development.

The questions revolved around the state of crisis the lobster industry reached last year and what concrete steps have been taken to ensure last year’s record low prices are not repeated on P.E.I. wharves when fishing resumes in April.

“Right now, would you say that there’s reason for lobster fisherman in P.E.I. to be optimistic about the upcoming season, as compared to what happened last year?” Liberal backbencher Buck Watts asked MacKinley.

The fisheries minister said he always remains positive, but said fishermen and processors must put aside their differences and work together if any progress is to be made.

He pointed to two independent reports completed last year on the industry after extensive consultation.

One report was completed by former P.E.I. auditor general Colin Younker and the other by a Maritime panel struck after the fishery came to a standstill last spring due to a Maritime-wide strike over low prices.

Both reports recommended a price-setting mechanism for lobster shore prices. The Maritime panel also recommended a one-cent lobster levy to raise money for regional marketing opportunities.

MacKinley says he supports both these recommendations.

“We strongly support the levy and, as a legislative assembly, voted for it,” he said.

“I would like a price mechanism for our fishers so they know what they’re going to get before they go out to fish. I don’t know if that’s going to be possible in the province of P.E.I. or not, but I would like to see it before at least the middle of April, before the fishers go out.”

He said the province has hired a mediator to help facilitate meetings between fishermen and processors as they explore these and other ideas to improve the fortunes of the fishery.

He also pointed to new markets opening up to P.E.I. lobster products, including China and western Canada, thanks in part to government initiatives.

The rest is up to industry, MacKinley said.

“Let’s hope they come up with an agreement,” MacKinley told reporters.

“At least they’re sitting down at the table talking, that’s better than what we had last spring.”

But Opposition fisheries critic Colin LaVie, who is also a lobster fisherman, said the problems associated with low shore prices have been far from solved, meanwhile the spring fishery is just around the corner.

“This minister is not doing anything. These reports have been out since November and still there’s no headway at all,” LaVie said.

“The fishermen would like to have seen where the marketing is going, where the levy is going, where the (report) recommendations are and we found nothing out today.”

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

Organizations: Standing Committee on Fisheries, Rural Development

Geographic location: P.E.I., China, Canada

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Recent comments

  • allan
    February 19, 2014 - 21:07

    The only way lobsters will be bought is if license holder's fish them ....nuff said

  • Tired!!
    February 19, 2014 - 14:34

    The Fishermen can't agree on anything if you put them all in the same room!! They cannot stand together without one trying to cut the others throats. I'm not really one for defending any politician but why do we always have to listen to these guys whine about something they should have taken care of themselves years ago. It's there industry, they could have control of it!

  • Tired!!
    February 19, 2014 - 14:33

    The Fishermen can't agree on anything if you put them all in the same room!! They cannot stand together without one trying to cut the others throats. I'm not really one for defending any politician but why do we always have to listen to these guys whine about something they should have taken care of themselves years ago. It's there industry, they could have control of it!

  • WayneDrops
    February 19, 2014 - 13:03

    Seems the great Island attitude is evident again. Let's all bash this profession and be ignorant. Typical of PEI. Everyone thinks Islanders are so nice but I think it is more of a "nice to your face" attitude. No one really cares on PEI and hates to see anyone else get ahead...they hate fishers, farmers, politicians, nurses, doctors, teachers, welfare, ei, pnp....no one cares anymore!

  • waste of time
    February 19, 2014 - 11:29

    Why do provinces like PEI even have a provincial fisheries minister? Lobster is 100% a federal responsibility and falls under DFO. Get rid of that provincial department entirely and nobody will miss it. They can't do anything anyway.

    • Mike
      February 19, 2014 - 15:36

      Right on .... More waste.. Were away over governed period

  • Fisher
    February 19, 2014 - 10:32

    Why not make Murray River MLA Charlie the Minister-should he not have more knowledge in this area? After All his Dad predicted a 7 dollar lobster last year!

  • Lobster buyer
    February 19, 2014 - 09:57

    I told you the price last year and I'll tell you the price for 2014. Canners will be 2.75 -3.15 and markets will be 3.00 - 3.50. " lobster Guru" has his facts right. Good fish'n !!e

    • allan
      February 19, 2014 - 14:28

      Hey lobster buyer print ur company name so we fisherman know your price b4 we set our traps bud

    • Lobster Guru
      February 19, 2014 - 15:05

      To Alan The price is what is predicted,the lobster fisherman went on a futile strike last year,which I am sure everyone thought would have brought the price up,however,it is market demand that rules the price,not what you lay in bed for hoping for,time to be wake up and smell the bait. .I wish the fisherman all the best but they must take full responsibility for their industry,and like someone had said,fisherman will never agree on anything.Fishing is like putting 100 farmers on one field and all want to make a living,but will stab you in the back to get ahead. The public as you can see will not tolerate the government bailing out an industry like fishing,and why should they when you have people trying to run their corner store with no help?

    • Hey Allan
      February 19, 2014 - 16:20

      All the companies are going to have the same price within a dime. You can choose to fish, strike, or take the year off , but the season will go on with the prices I quoted. Nuff said

    • allan
      February 19, 2014 - 17:25

      Since u know so much about fishing and farming lobster guru maybe ghiz will give u mackinleys job .lobsters are 7bucks a lb or 5 bucks for 400 grams of meat right now so supply cant be to abundant .and really do we need anymore corner stores nobody can afford to pay any extra because the only people with any money either work for ghiz or for his click..not everyone is gonna sell their fleet and buy some of those new condos in town. Ps mafia in chicago own our lobsters already this year before we go fishing and already know what they are getting.

  • Charlottetown
    February 19, 2014 - 07:54

    Here's a thought. Notice that they are showing footage of this discussion, but not showing any footage of the backroom dealings over the groundwater irrigation proposal by our Island farmers. In my opinion, it's because the deal is already done and this irrigation project is going to go ahead. Robert Ghiz and his liberal party are going to sell us out again, wait and see.

    • allan
      February 19, 2014 - 20:43

      To hey allan funny how all the buyers are paying the same price they already seem to know what they are making .this year I will have to ask santa to get the buyers to post their prices or that might make a conflict with the lobster click .by the way I see you two lobster expert's aren't saying what buyers u are .why is that??????

  • Really ??
    February 19, 2014 - 07:01

    If the provincial tories had a clue they wouldn't be wasting their time on the provincial liberals but going after Shea for answers ( even though the back room won't let them!!) ...McKinley has no power/influence on the lobster fishery..it is all federally regulated and looked after- now if they are looking for a trout license after the next election they are in the right place !!

  • Harbour Joe
    February 19, 2014 - 06:20

    Of course it's going to happen again record catches of the same species over an area from here to Maine . Now red lobster has built a 40 million pound per year lobster farm in asia to supply its american restaurants in the near future . Chinese sales of lobster are a flop . Locals ate so much cheap lobster last year many are actually sick of it the Lobster as well as the whining

  • Bumbling idiot
    February 18, 2014 - 23:53

    This man does not care about the fishing industry... He proved that with some of his previous comments about fisherman... He doesn't have a clue about the industry or any industry for that matter..he is just along for the ride to collect a paycheck... I can't believe he has been in politics for so long ... Just goes to show any yahoo can run for politics and win... It's the island mentality that keeps voting these jokers in to rob the island finances

  • joe
    February 18, 2014 - 22:21

    What needs to be going is this Fisheries Minister!!! Shameful representation to a multi million dollar industry!!

  • Joe Blow
    February 18, 2014 - 21:54

    HAHA...good one....since when has a member of this Liberal government ever actually answered any questions about anything? They just lie and deny...thats their policy when it comes to talking about anything.

  • Lobster Guru
    February 18, 2014 - 20:20

    I think the shore price may be up 10-20 cents a pound due to the dollar,but in reality,the demand for lobster is low,and the US is still not out of their recession, the Canadian economy is no hell either and as far as the China markets the price will remain low due to the high cost of shipping. I would safely predict 3.00 for canners and 3.50 for markets. As for trap reductions and size increases the north side had better get at it,why all other districts have to adapt is beyond me.

  • Bad Hairdoo
    February 18, 2014 - 19:22

    I don't know who told Ron MacKinley to dye his hair but he shouldn't have listened.