P.E.I. likely to adopt lobster levy: fishing association president

Teresa Wright
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Leigh Knox, left, Mike McGeoghgan and Stephen Lapierre, right, of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association presenting their concerns over low lobster prices to a committee of MLAs during a meeting Tuesday. The PEIFA says it will likely go ahead with a lobster levy to help raise money for lobster marketing.

The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association says it will likely go ahead with a one-cent lobster levy for Prince Edward Island, even if the other Maritime provinces pass on the idea.

On Tuesday, representatives from the association told a committee of MLAs looking into lobster prices that fishermen are frustrated with getting rock bottom prices for their catches while consumers are paying $40 or more for lobster in restaurants.

Two recent consultant’s reports on the industry both recommended a penny-a-pound levy to raise money for a targeted marketing campaign, but suggested it should be a Maritime-wide initiative led by the Lobster Council of Canada.

PEIFA President Mike McGeoghgan said Tuesday P.E.I.’s fishery cannot wait for the other provinces to get on board.

“We’ll end up doing it on our own. We can’t wait for (the Lobster Council of Canada) to do this,” McGeoghgan said.

“Marketing is always a plus no matter how you do it. So I think it will be good. And hopefully the other provinces will come on side so we’re all doing the same thing at the same time, but if they don’t we’re going to go ahead without them.”

The fishery representatives and MLAs discussed many of the factors currently putting stress on the industry and debated some potential solutions that could help increase shore prices.

Several MLAs pointed to a statistic in former auditor general Colin Younker’s review of the industry that found in Nova Scotia, over 80 per cent of exported lobster is sold to the more lucrative live market, while only eight per cent of P.E.I. lobster is sold to the live market.

The vast majority of P.E.I. lobster is processed.

Liberal MLA Richard Brown asked the fishermen whether they are in favour of developing holding facilities for live lobster in P.E.I. in order to keep and later release on the market when prices are at a premium, the way grain farmers utilize grain elevators.

McGeoghgan said this is an idea the association is exploring.

“We are looking at this so we can get the numbers, see what it costs to actually put up these facilities, how big, who’s going to be in charge of them. I think there’s a real potential there,” he said.

“It would take the so-called glut off the market.”

In the meantime, Bobby Jenkins of the Southern Kings Fishermen’s Association said lobster fishers are hoping for some help this year with fuel costs.

He told the committee this will be significant factor in 2014 operating costs, so the association is hoping government will offer an enhanced fuel rebate program to help keep costs down.

“Whatever help we can get there I think would be a big plus,” Jenkins said.

As for the lobster levy, McGeoghegan did not offer details on how it would be administered, but did say it would only go ahead if a majority of Island lobster fishers are in favour of it.

About 75 per cent of north shore fishermen have already voted in favour of a levy this season with the province's other two fishing areas also planning a vote on the issue.

It has been estimated such a levy would generate up to $500,000 for lobster marketing initiatives, if matched by processors and buyers.

Organizations: Lobster Council of Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen, Prince Edward Island, Maritime Nova Scotia Southern Kings Fishermen

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    March 12, 2014 - 11:33

    Wooow why should government help the fisherman what about the people thats living on poverty wages and low pension are they going to help us to we need a break too

  • Sou'Wester
    March 12, 2014 - 08:58

    Mike must eat at better restaurants than his son Charlie. Charlie's lobster cost $27. a pound yet Mike's cost $40. I guess it's the company you keep. I find it hard to believe that NS sells more than 80% to the live markets while PEI only sells 8%. Now we're back to canners, are they a good thing or bad?

    • High-Roller
      March 12, 2014 - 17:31

      8% does seem very low, especially when you consider that the Island's catch is close to half markets. However, there is a plant in PEI and another in NB that actually process the market size lobster because the meat yield is higher and less labour is required. So maybe???

  • Islander
    March 12, 2014 - 08:24

    Whaaaat???? A fuel rebate???? They already have $40000 trucks, $200000 boats, 42 weeks of EI, trips to Cuba, etc, and now they want a fuel rebate??? Oh these god damn fishermen, they should be dragged out to the field and shot....imagine???

    • silverfox
      March 12, 2014 - 11:06

      Now my head is really spinning. The Fishermen want $40.00 a lb. for their lobsters. The farmers want $10.00-$12.00 lb. for their potatoes and vegetables are going for $8.00-$10.00 a .lb. And restaurant owners need a least $20.00 per person to keep their doors open. A coffee is worth about $2.00-$3.00 a cup. A beer is worth $6.00 a glass. A single hard liquor is worth $8.00 a shot. In order for one to have a Island lobster supper it would cost over $100.00 per person. So if there was 4 in a family that would be $400.00 . And in Robert Ghiz case with 5 in his family could he really afford to pay $500.00 to just have an evening supper out with his family. Now fishermen put that in your pipe and think of how many familys can afford on several occassions a lobster dinner . And would you pay that amount for a Beef or Pork dinner. Lets get real.

  • Can't wait
    March 12, 2014 - 08:10

    Oh boy, can't wait to read everyone's opinion on this. Make sure you complain about the fishwrman's $40000 truck and all the EI they get. And to look for a fuel rebate??? Come on people, start complaining about this. Looking forward to your comments, they make my day

  • Take Responsibility
    March 12, 2014 - 06:43

    What I can't understand is why the government is always expected to get involved. If I make gadgets and I don't think my buyers are paying me enough, do I approach my MLA for remedy? No, I am left to sort it out on my own. So why the special entitlement to some and not others? Because their industry is more important?

  • Jonas Olafsen
    March 12, 2014 - 05:47

    By the time your fishermen wake up and realize its the Brokers who are controling the price the fishermen get for their product. The Brokers have a financial hold on most of the buyers. Fishermen have to control their own markets. You are losing your educated young people everyday. There is a future in your towns for your children to run this venture . (Wake up and smell the roses )

  • Here we go Again!
    March 11, 2014 - 22:39

    When is Mike ever going to listen,it is all supply and demand,lobster is a luxury item which people eat every now and then,you can not try to set your prices based on restaurant prices.If lobster fishers got 15 $ per pound they would be whining that they should get $ 30 per pound. Time to wake up,if you are not happy with the price get out of it,if you can,t because you paid some moronic price that is your problem not the tax payers. At least he has not mention the 3rd world thing,haha. If you are worried about a glut time to cut back on traps or have a quota.

  • Just a dumb plumber
    March 11, 2014 - 22:23

    Just last week I read a article about the fishers being concerned about you image to other islanders and in this article you are stating you are looking For a fuel rebate That's going to help your image NOT

  • Excited Delirium in the lobster economy
    March 11, 2014 - 21:54

    How can fishermen put up with their leaders speaking like children .They ignore the fact that the US restaurant chains are collapsing at the same time as the entire east coast of north america is having record lobster catches. Mark my words this will be the worst year to get clear of lobster in decades and the buyers will likley stop accepting lobster by mid May .