Hope in the air for lobster prices at Boston seafood expo

Teresa Wright
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Francis Morrissey, left, of Tignish Co-op and Royal Star Food, and Craig Avery of the Western Gulf Fishermens Association sit at a federal standing committee held near Montague.

Hope is in the air for the 2014 lobster season with early indications showing shore prices could be better than last year, according to participants of the North American seafood expo in Boston.

Francis Morrissey, manager of Royal Star Foods of Tignish, P.E.I., says the mood on the expo floor is more upbeat than in 2013.

“Last year nobody wanted to even talk, everybody seemed to be in a down mood. The economy in Europe was poor and in the United States,” Morrissey said in a telephone interview from Boston Monday.

“But this year things seem to have turned around. There’s people actually wanting to talk about lobster and talk about placing orders. I try to tell them all when I’m speaking to them that the price has to go up for the fishermen, they can’t continue to fish for this price.”

Last year saw the lowest shore prices for lobster in decades across the Maritimes. Fury over the prices led fishermen to tie up their boats during the opening two weeks of the spring fishery last year.

P.E.I. fishermen have been pushing for a set price and many are saying they will not set their traps this year if prices once again fall to $3 a pound.

P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley, who is leading a trade mission of about 100 seafood industry representatives from the Island, says he too is hearing positive things about the upcoming season at the expo currently underway in Boston.

“They tell me this year we’re sort of out of that recession, so they’re picking up orders, which is good,” MacKinley said.

“There are people here from China, from Korea, from all over the U.S. And the crowds are way up, too.”

Seafood Expo North America, formerly called the Boston seafood show, is the largest seafood trade event in North America, with over 800 exhibitors offering products, services and equipment from all over the world. More than 19,000 buyers, suppliers and other seafood professionals from over 100 countries attend the expo each year.

Jean-Paul Gagné, of the Quebec Fish Processors Association told reporters during a teleconference Monday lobster fishermen from his province are indeed anticipating better prices for their catches this year.

“It will not be double, but we expect to have a better price in 2014 than in 2013,” Gagné said.

Jeff Duffin, vice-president of global marketing for Clearwater Seafoods in Nova Scotia said he too is hearing positive projections.

But he cautioned these indicators could change quickly, especially as more product is landed and enters the market.

“To date the shore price has been higher than we have expected,” Duffin said.

“But it really comes down to it being a supply and demand game and it’s really hard for us to predict what’s going to happen, because things change by the day as every boat goes out and fishes for lobster.”

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said her department is working with the industry in the region to develop long-term solutions to pricing issues, notably in opening the doors to new markets through trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea.

She also said DFO will honour all recommendations the Maritime Lobster Panel report directed toward the federal department.

“I guess you’ve heard some optimism (for 2014),” Shea said.

“DFO is working with the industry on long-term plans to create more demand, as you’ve heard, it’s a supply-and-demand industry.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: North American, Royal Star Foods, DFO Quebec Fish Processors Association Clearwater Seafoods European Union Maritime Lobster Panel

Geographic location: Boston, United States, Tignish Europe P.E.I. China Korea North America Nova Scotia South Korea

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  • MGKS
    March 18, 2014 - 12:24

    Astonished, as a fisherman I pay just as much if not more then most do in taxes to the governemnt so it's not just the everyday Joe taxpayer dollars that have most likly funded a trip to Boston to promote our seafood industry, it's mine also so if thats what it takes to get me a fair price for the product we all work so hard to get so be it . And as for everyone always complaining qbout how all.fisherman are just a bunch of whining sooks who don't want to pay to get anything done and cheat the systems for money although we are al rich and dont and it, if you want to any day I will show you my accounts see how rich I am!! See how many new trucks, boats trips I have nd take !! I work as hard as anyone else and have nothing but a second mortgage basically to show for it! Yes it was my choice to get involved in a industry like this not anyone else's , and i understand that! But its the job i love to do just as much as anyone else loves what they do! The only people who MIGHT be making any amount of money at it now are those who dont owe anything and have been fishing for 30 years, but still those people have had their share of rough times to. People around here need to realize that fishing and farming is as vital to our economy as oil is to western canada. If we dont get support then families stay small ,which means everything from daycare, grocery stores, car dealers etc suffer becuase the fisherman and women need to go to alberta to make the money needed to survive which means more money not sp ent in atlantic Canada . Its nothing New everyone understands the domino effect , but yet some still criticize and hate us becuase they dont see past the fact that fishermen get help to stay in buisness from gov the odd time and those times seem to be the only stories getting more publication and make us all look worse then we are . Fishing has a long history in my family as it does in many others, i challenge any of the "haters" to go and check those families to see how many are millionaires after 100 years of fishing ( not just lobster) or how many live cheque to cheque like everyone else around here.

    • Like
      March 18, 2014 - 17:49

      I like your comment mkgs I'm in the same boat as you in the fishing industry

    • Bendover
      March 19, 2014 - 08:27

      Dont ever compare your lobster to oil. Just shows how ignorant you are.

  • ASTONISHED
    March 18, 2014 - 08:51

    P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley, who is leading a trade mission of about 100 seafood industry representatives from the Island, says he too is hearing positive things about the upcoming season at the expo currently underway in Boston. A 100 on the taxpayers dollar?