Poll shows Islanders not fully grasping lobster price issues

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Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, delivers a summary of the group's strategic plan and 2014 update at the annual meeting in Charlottetown Saturday.

The public can expect to hear more from the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association after members received a wake-up call on Saturday.

Members got a view of themselves through a public lens during the group’s annual meeting at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.

During a summary of the group’s strategic plan and 2014 update, executive director Ian MacPherson said one of the PEIFA’s goals for this year is to develop a strategy on engaging the public in issues relating to the industry.

A poll conducted in 2013 by a private company for the PEIFA saw 20 per cent of respondents say they believed that lobster prices remained the same during the past five years.

About 12 per cent were unaware of the state of landing prices.

“They (the public) know there are questions about price and prices being lowered but they really don’t fully understand it,” said MacPherson, adding that altogether about 70 per cent of Islanders polled had little understanding of the direction of prices in the past five years. “Obviously there is some work to do there.”

Last year’s $3 a pound landing prices sparked a solidarity strike from fishermen around the Maritimes during the first two weeks of the season.

While that strike caved in by mid-May, fishermen haven’t forgotten about the low prices.

The issue was also a big part of the convention Friday, with members calling for a vote on whether to tie up boats again this year.

The poll, which saw 300 participants share their perception of the industry, also saw more than half of those polled state they believed fishermen receive the same amount, or more, of government support as the provincial agriculture and tourism industries.

That is not the case, said MacPherson.

“There are very good programs out there but we need to correct some of the perceptions that are also out there,” he said.

Part of that strategy involves a new association website, which MacPherson said is in the stage of being “fine-tuned.”

“We need to tell our story we need to make it resonate with the consumer out there,” said MacPherson, who also used numbers from Statistics Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and provincial government in his presentation. “At the end of the day, the more positive public perception we have helps us with a lot of the things we do… if we’re advocating for funding, for programs or whatever it’s really important to have the public behind us.”

There were also some positive numbers from the poll, said MacPherson.

That included 74 per cent saying they personally know a fisherman.

“If we do a little work, we can get the public more on our side,” said MacPherson, adding that about 80 per cent responded that they felt the industry was important to P.E.I.’s economy. “They (the public) just tended to undervalue how much we contribute to the (provincial) economy.”

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • townie22
    March 03, 2014 - 09:09

    we, or at last I, understand the problems reported in the article, but the real problem is the state of the economy world-wide, too many people are worried about losing their job, low wages, unemployed, etc., lobster is considered a luxury many cannot afford, and no amount of panels, commissions, and inquiries can change that. take a look at the supermarket checkouts next time Kraft Dinner goes on sale...........

  • Ricky
    March 03, 2014 - 08:15

    Maybe the fishermen don't need all their big toys and such..what's wrong with smaller boats??. And yet exspect people to eat lobster for beakfast .dinner..supper...to fill their pockets!i have no sympathy maybe they are only worth 3$/pound

  • Fishermen
    March 03, 2014 - 06:28

    Have we really become this self absorbed .

  • mike
    March 03, 2014 - 01:04

    Boo Who, I am 40 years old with 4 children. I was having trouble paying my bills, so I quit my job after 10 years and went back to college for 3 years, I had to borrow the money to go back to school but in the long run it will pay out for my family. My wife and I drive 10 year old cars and have never taken our children to Florida. How many Fisherman can say that. I know a lot of fisherman who drive new 40 thousand dollar trucks and buy 500 dollar hockey sticks for their kids, did I mention Andrews Hockey Growth Programs school. Stop living in a dream world and stop blaming everyone else for your problems, Fisherman go on like its hard work , give me a break , they are their own bosses, Its real hard to work for yourself, I have fished lobster before the biggest problem for the day is what kind of beer should we buy and how much, Man up, get a backbone and a real job.

  • justin
    March 02, 2014 - 21:12

    The so called public doesn't care because many of them are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. They don't have the money to go and buy a big new truck every year and go on trips with the whole family and growl because they only made $100,000 because the price of lobster was under $3. Most islanders look at these people and say maybe the fishermen should learn what hard times really are before they start complaining.

  • Dave
    March 02, 2014 - 13:38

    I would be very curious to see a comparison of the revenue generated through the lobster industry vs the level of provincial and federal government funding necessary to keep it afloat. While we're at it, the tax dollars the industry generates would be nice to know too. I question if the over all funding is justifiable.

    • don
      March 02, 2014 - 14:42

      how many millions does it cost to keep farmers going? with loans some never pay back, etc etc. how would islanders feel if "all fishermen stopped fishing? no tuna,no lobsters etc. how would the tourist feel?

  • looking at the future
    March 02, 2014 - 12:57

    Oceans are experiencing increased acidification as they absorb record CO2 levels. The entire scallop stock off Vancouver Island has disappeared this winter. Gone. Shellfish are the canary in the coal mine. What will you do if the American Lobster disappears completely in a very short period of time from Atlantic Canadian waters? Do you not see this coming????

  • Grindz My Gearz
    March 02, 2014 - 12:01

    It's not that the public doesn't understand, it's that they don't care.

  • Johnny
    March 02, 2014 - 11:59

    I do feel for the fishermen the last few years with low prices and high fuel costs. But man you have to take a look at yourselves and say when will the public have enough because it's been about 30 years now of always needing more. We all have our chosen professions and have our issues, but we aren't in the papers complaining every year about something . Do you think it's easy working year round to pay your bills while paying income tax with no tax break, no pay raises, paying top EI fees with no chance of return and then reading about some other group of people wanting a bigger cut of the pie? I agree you do have a PR problem

  • d from queens
    March 02, 2014 - 10:30

    sou'wester is right if you guys can t find the answer to your pricing problems how or why do you expect the public to. who runs a business depending on buyers to tell them the price a week after the season begins. half of which are fly by nighter's smarten up get your head out of the sand.

  • Ben Dover
    March 02, 2014 - 10:23

    You have to open up about it all then. Open up about boats on north side catching 35-40 pounds of lobster. Open up about self employeed people drawing EI. Your are going to find it hard to get the public on your side.

  • jackofalltrades
    March 01, 2014 - 23:50

    Don't get the same level of support that other industries do?!?!? Aren't fisherman allowed to claim fuel on their taxes? Aren't they allowed to claim their truck, tractor, etc on their taxes? Farmers, tourist operators and any other business owners aren't allowed to collect EI if their business is shutdown but fishermen are. I grew up in a fishing household and can appreciate that things are tough but to say fishermen don't get support like other industries is a reason why it is hard to get public on your side....people know the difference

  • Sou'Wester
    March 01, 2014 - 18:14

    If there is a misconception about pricing out there, you only have yourselves to blame. The PEIFA has so bungled this file, it's no wonder Islanders are confused. You and McGheoghan have made so many silly statements it is to laugh. BTW, $3.00 a pound is the price for canners, not including the markets, so your aggregate price is more than $3.00 a pound. You could start by being upfront with us instead of blaming everyone else but yourselves.If you want our support take charge and stop the blaming and come up with some solutions on your own.You fellows have dug your own hole with all your bickering and whining. It's time to man up.

    • Fall Fishermen's wife
      March 02, 2014 - 00:32

      Dear Sou'Wester To Clarify.....I am looking at our statement from last fall.....We received $2.50 for canner lobster and $2.75 for market lobster..... Mid season our price went up to $2.75 for canner lobster and $3 for market (not all fishermen received this increase from their buyer) .....However, I don't disagree with you on that fact that a lot of the silly statements that come from "Fred" and "Barney" (McGhgeoghan and MacPherson) are problematic. I assure you continuing with this low price will negatively affect the provincial economy too......We are not looking for your sympathy....We come from tough stock and will weather the storm....but fellow Islanders support would very much be appreciated......