Fishermen want vote on set price for lobster

Steve Sharratt
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P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association President Mike McGeoghegan checks out the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans booth at the annual convention Friday with fellow board member Ken Drake. The convention is being held at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.

P.E.I. lobster fishermen want an open vote to decide whether to tie up their boats and shut down the entire industry this spring without a guaranteed price.

“I’m sick and I’m tired of going fishing for nothing,’’ said fisherman Roger O’Neill, during the opening day of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association convention Friday in Charlottetown.

P.E.I. FISHERMEN'S ASSOCIATION ASKS MEDIA TO LEAVE MEETING IN CHARLOTTETOWN. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY.

“I think we should make sure we have a price before we set one trap this year.”

O’Neill made the statement during a report being delivered by association president Mike McGeoghegan, who said while work was underway to establish a shore price, there was still nothing final.

Last year was called “the perfect storm” and yielded the worst prices ever. It sparked a solidarity strike when fishermen from around the Maritimes refused to fish during the first two weeks of the season. However, the protest against a $3 lobster caved in when fishermen began breaking ranks and the strike failed by mid-May.

“We would be better off swinging a hammer or driving a truck in Alberta than delivering cheap lobster that makes a profit for everyone else,” said O’Neil, a Murray Harbour fishermen who insisted fishermen demand a $5 lobster this year.

Association board member Wayne Campbell from Montague said the association has lobbied long and hard for a “set” price this year and offered O’Neill his place at the table when fishermen meet with processors again at the Charlottetown Hotel on March 5.

The idea of refusing to fish this spring without a guaranteed price fuelled the desires of some of the hundreds of fishermen who filled the ballroom at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.

“There’s just too many young guys who can’t afford not to fish.” Fishermen Norman Peters

“We should have a vote,’’ one cried out.

The board of directors agreed, but disallowed a show of hands in the room.

“There are too many fishermen out west right now or away and it has to be fair,’’ said board member and Morell fishermen Ken Drake during an interview. “We will have to figure out some kind of mail out ballot or something before the season begins.”

McGeoghegan said the association welcomes democracy and fishermen will have a chance to vote.

“We all feel (as fishermen) the frustration of not having a set price before we haul,” he said. “So if fishermen want to vote on this before the season begins, so be it.”

P.E.I. fishermen landed over 27 million pounds of lobster last year at an estimated economic value to the province of over $100 million.

One veteran fisheries observer said the P.E.I. processing sector is dysfunctional and is one reason there is never a confirmed shore price.

“You don’t sling donuts here without knowing what your pay will be,’’ he said.

One processor who sat in on the meeting declined comment while leaving the convention centre but did provide The Guardian with an off the record comment.

“If these guys think there’s enough money to be paid a five buck lobster,” he said. “Why don’t they buy one of the many plants up for sale in Kings County?”

Conservative MLA Colin Lavie, a Souris fisherman, completely dodged questions when asked about the vote on a possible boat tie up this spring. He insisted it was up to the fishermen and even as a fisherman he would offer no opinion.

“It will be a split vote of course,” offered North Rustico fisherman Norm “The Bearded Skipper” Peters. “There’s just too many young guys who can’t afford not to fish.”

 

 

Organizations: Charlottetown Hotel, The Guardian

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen, Charlottetown, Alberta Murray Harbour Kings

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Recent comments

  • truth in the light
    March 01, 2014 - 18:44

    You can only demand price if you have a monopoly on the product . Think about it . Don't forget you have to land and sell lobster to have EI claims .

  • CRA
    March 01, 2014 - 14:00

    Looks like fisherman selling for cash are going to be paying a little more taxes this year with Log books in place. And to the Smart fella that paid 600 k for a fleet ,that is now worth 350 k,remember that old ad "Smooth move Ex-lax!,lets hope Mommy and Daddy didn,t re-mortage the house on it.

    • Fisherman
      March 01, 2014 - 14:34

      Don't worry idiot I'm living good and I'm feeding my family FYI my rig is almost paid for and it's not because I didn't work for it I had to leave my family for six months of the year

    • Dumb idea or what
      March 01, 2014 - 17:34

      Even with the log books for 2014 the CRA and DFO still have no idea of actual landed catch what so ever . Lobster will just be caged and picked up at night or they will just fudge the logbook and hide catch . Look at the Scallop fishery 95 % of scallops are sold for off the books cash and no one including DFO is checking or logging catch even though the fishermen are allowed to draw summer EI while fishing .

  • seems kinda simple
    March 01, 2014 - 13:30

    it seems kinda simple to me, but maybe i just missed the boat so to speak ,but 10- 15 years fishermen were getting twice the price as they are now, but landing half as many lobsters (15,000-20,000lbs a season was a good season, now its 30,000-40,000lbs). with no real new markets for the lobster being caught it stands to reason the old adage "supply and demand" comes into play. there is just too much lobster being landed! the winter fishery has the tiger by the tail because with he colder water allows them to cage their lobster, the water is too warm to do that in our fishery, so until more markets open up or catches get reduced we're in it for the long haul.

  • seems kinda simple
    March 01, 2014 - 13:29

    it seems kinda simple to me, but maybe i just missed the boat so to speak ,but 10- 15 years fishermen were getting twice the price as they are now, but landing half as many lobsters (15,000-20,000lbs a season was a good season, now its 30,000-40,000lbs). with no real new markets for the lobster being caught it stands to reason the old adage "supply and demand" comes into play. there is just too much lobster being landed! the winter fishery has the tiger by the tail because with he colder water allows them to cage their lobster, the water is too warm to do that in our fishery, so until more markets open up or catches get reduced we're in it for the long haul.

  • Not feeling sorry for them at all
    March 01, 2014 - 12:31

    The fisherman are failing to mention that last year when selling lobster local people that they were selling them for 5+ a pound.. Not one fisherman is going out for nothing.. Especially mr.neill. For years lobster prices were high, they bitched that they want more money.. If you don't like the prices, find another job like everyone else

  • Fisherman
    March 01, 2014 - 12:17

    I like how all of you burger flipping cry babies are the ones crying about fisherman I'd like to see u guys go out and spend 600000 on a lobster rig and not want a better price sure we make a good income but think about it 30000 lbs times 3 is 90000 minus 10000 for fuel 10000 for bait 12000 for crew minus 40000 for a bank payment there is 18000 left wow so much money eh and we can't get out of it because we can only get 350000 for a rig now so do the math you pencil pushing babies

    • SOU'WESTER
      March 01, 2014 - 13:22

      If you listened to yourself, you wouldn't be spending $600,000 for a rig. That's your first mistake. Fishermen complain that they are losing money,but still think the licence is worth $600,000 - $700,000. What you don't add in here is , in a lot of cases, $20,000 for yourself and $20,000 for your wife in EI benefits. If this fisherman wants a guarnteed price of $5.00 from processors, who is going to guaranty the processor a price that he can pay all his workers and still leave a profit for the shareholders? If fishermen want $5.oo a pound, go out and create your own market and sell direct. Cut the processors and middlemen out as you think that it is them that are robbing you. You can market your own lobsters, you don't need them.

    • Fisherman
      March 01, 2014 - 14:29

      Just letting you know sowester my wife is a RN and I bought my license nine years ago and it was with it then and I fish as much as I possibly can I fish herring in the fall and also fish lobsters in Nova Scotia in the winter time then go out west for the remainder of the winter after Christmas and I have two kids I don't see for five months of the year so can u say I work nine weeks out of the year idiot I'm not the only fisherman that has to do this to survive every one that has bought into fishing in the last fifteen years had to leave or starve

  • Fisher
    March 01, 2014 - 10:25

    Why is it that back in the year 2000 Lobster was 5 and 6 dollars a pound at one point at seafood 2000 in Georgetown

  • smart ?
    March 01, 2014 - 10:23

    some fishermen in N>S> were offered $4when the season started they refused to sell and caged their catch . one group sold over 50 thousand lbs yesterday for $7.50 a pound smart you do the math.. this is fact cut out the fat cat.

  • South side fisherman
    March 01, 2014 - 10:01

    It's not just the east end looking for a tie up them harbours stretched far west on the conference call least season. Also my May catch is better than June as we'll . I'm just young into the fishery and I can't afford to tie up but I can't afford to fish at a low price. If a tie up would work id much rather take a hit once and tell the bank once I couldn't make my payment than tell them every year. As for fisherman only working 2 months of the year how many harbours are empty in July? None because there is other fisheries that many are involved in because we love our job. As for the guy that said they should charge 500a cord for firewood why not charge 90 a cord like they use to years ago. They charge 250 because that's what it's worth and they need that with all the rising costs and hidden expenses. I cut my own Wood so I know what it takes and I'm not like some people who comment on something without having a clue about the subject or what it takes for some jobs. But if you have some firewood I'll take 10 cord in November and I'll pay you in January what I think it's worth. I'm just giving an example no one would work without knowing what they are getting paid without complaining or think your working for one wage and when your cheque comes it's much lower anyone would complain. Again fishermen are just a bigger group so everyone hears our complaints and feel the need to comment when knowing nothing on the subject!

  • fred
    March 01, 2014 - 08:53

    Yes ; what a great idea.Set a $5.00 a pound price and don;t set one trap until a $5.00 price is confirmed. Guess what!It would be a long 10 weeks standing on the wharfs / whining to each other ; with all the boats tied up . Half of the younger / new fishers would loose their gear and the other half /senior fishers could go fishing trout and talk about how good they used to have it. Work a few weeks , get top pogey , set in the parking lot and sell their catch for cash; for twice the price they were going for, and so on .The fact is the arse is out of it for now /Move on to something else like other people has to do and stop depending on gov (tax payers) for handouts.

  • Fisherman
    March 01, 2014 - 08:27

    There is quite a few fisherman coop's on pei that are owned by they're members (Fisherman) and they're not getting $5 per lb they still get the same as everyone else.

  • don
    March 01, 2014 - 07:43

    it boils down to money and who is really making it? it is time the government finds out but we all know they CAN NOT as it may look bad for there friends. but i ask you all how many of you will go out and fish and take a chance you will not come home due to a storm or the boat sinks and you drown? or try to live on the money they get? i'm not saying that there job is the only dangerous job. but someone is making money now who is it.

  • fed up
    March 01, 2014 - 07:27

    You are paying 59% back. You must have a very high income if you are taxed to that extend. Must be great to be whining all the way to the bank!

    • High-Roller
      March 01, 2014 - 12:32

      It's not just income tax. You pay 30% of your EI back when you file your taxes and then pay income tax on the other 70%. And I'm not whining about it, just correcting inaccurate information.

  • Le pres
    March 01, 2014 - 06:30

    Once again the fishermen from PEI suffer from a lack of leadership. Last year at this time they were totally miss informed about market conditions and told a crazy price by there then leader. Now there leadership will not beleive the processing sector (and the managment of the large coops that they have now) that the small lobster (less than 77mm) are to costly to process and have very little demand in the market place. They voted not to help them selves with a trap reduction. They simply have to look across the southern waters at fishermen who have moved on both the size and trap numbers to try and help themselves in the market place instead of blaming everyone else for there problems.

  • whatif
    March 01, 2014 - 06:11

    What if fisherman learned to walk on there own two feet and did not look for EI handouts for a few weeks work , 9 week season gets you near one yrs EI..... work like the rest.... quit being treated like ei royalty stand up fisherman and work like the rest of us simply islanders

  • how come
    February 28, 2014 - 23:17

    if there is so much money in it how come fisherman owned procesors acadia and royal star foods don't have a huge profit for their fisherman.fishers need to fish to make enough money for 2 sets of stamps as well.ever notice that its the fisherman down east that usually want to tie up because their landings swell only 3 weeks into the season while up west the bulk of their catch is the first 3 weeks.

  • how come
    February 28, 2014 - 23:17

    if there is so much money in it how come fisherman owned procesors acadia and royal star foods don't have a huge profit for their fisherman.fishers need to fish to make enough money for 2 sets of stamps as well.ever notice that its the fisherman down east that usually want to tie up because their landings swell only 3 weeks into the season while up west the bulk of their catch is the first 3 weeks.

  • southsider
    February 28, 2014 - 23:05

    again north side hogs the jig is up…your 50 extra traps from the fall guys ..or the 28 from the spring guys….your days of 300 ,,,you will be fishing 250 come aprill ….senior dfo has said so…..

  • Dumb idea or what
    February 28, 2014 - 22:17

    What if the boat haulers get together and demand $600 to splash a boat or what if woodcutters demand $500 for a delivered cord of wood . The lobsters actually belong to all Canadians not lobstermen .Its not like a farmer who actually owns the cow that they are milking. PS many fishermen only put a certain amount of sales on the books and spend enough on their very loose business expences to come under the clawback so they keep most of the EI . The fishermen the packers the weigh man and the accountants are all in on the game . Don't let the clawback talk fool you . If they counted cash sales and only legitmate expenses they would actually have to pay income tax .

  • ONEROUND
    February 28, 2014 - 19:44

    What if they pooled there first round of poogy and put it in the hat and use that to boost the price of lobster.... ON THE NORTHSIDE ALONE THAT WOULD BE OVER 5,000,000 , DOLLARS...... YOU FISHERMAN ARE NOT DOING TO BAD FOR 2 MONTHS OF WORK.....

    • Anonymous
      February 28, 2014 - 20:34

      That would actually be $1,125,000 the Northside could contribute. You idiots don't seem to realize that fishermen pay 75% of unemployment earnings back into income tax

    • High-Roller
      February 28, 2014 - 20:45

      I'm a fisherman, and you're right but it's not quite that high, for me 59% gets paid back. Varies a bit depending on income.

    • Anonymous
      February 28, 2014 - 21:08

      Rite on High Roller, wasnt sure if it was that high either but I've been told it could be.

  • same story
    February 28, 2014 - 19:36

    Why not demand 10 dollars a pound? Demand all you want . Government stay out of this and let supply and demand set the price. Fishermen must be the only people in the world that get payed by the government to build equipment for themselves that they use for private gain. I am so sick of whining fishermen I hope they only get 2 dollars a pound.

  • Lobster Guru
    February 28, 2014 - 18:47

    Here is your set price $ 2.99 for canners,$3.49 for markets,would have been 3 and 3.5 but had to take the 1 cent off for promotion. I can see anyone with the fleet not paid for tell the bank manager they did not want to fish for this, telling the CRA would be even better.

  • mt
    February 28, 2014 - 18:28

    One processor who sat in on the meeting declined comment while leaving the convention centre but did provide The Guardian with an off the record comment. “If these guys think there’s enough money to be paid a five buck lobster,” he said. “Why don’t they buy one of the many plants up for sale in Kings County?” This is actually the best response to a ongoing problem, that I have heard yet . Let the fisherman all pitch in together start a co-op and buy the plants themselves. I am sure the gov't will lend them money it sounds like a solution to their problems.

    • vick
      February 28, 2014 - 21:30

      Oh my its the best thing I have heard yet! Lobsters are not a necessity of life better yet very unhealthy however everything in moderation….why not why can't the fishermen buy the plants and have complete control over the price of their lobster on pei???? ah thats right it would be work just like the natives giving the plants and licenses all will go down the tube…….if paying fishermen big dollars for their catch is so profiable than boys get er done start your own processing plant? The irvings are doing it why acant you? Stop looking for tax payer to do it all for you step up and show the tax payer that you are serious and a major contributor to the pei economy????

    • AMAZED
      February 28, 2014 - 23:01

      I HAVE BEEN PUSHING FOR THIS FOR YEARS ! The plant in Souris was built with tax payers dollars and flipped from one individual to Polar Foods than to Ocean Choice . Why not flip this tax burden to the public into a fishermans CO-OP and let everyone enjoy the benefits , not just someone from another province who pays their taxes in another province . Pat Binns single handedly created a monopoly on PEI and killed the fishery , it is time to correct that disgraceful and hurtful governance and this could be a first step .There are many other Islanders that suffered but this would be a start .