Lobster demand generates better prices on P.E.I.

Steve Sharratt
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Brian Matthews guides a load of lobster pans out of a boat at West Point in this Guardian file photo.

Shore prices are in the range of $3.75 to $4 for canners and $4.25 to $4.50 for markets

MONTAGUE — P.E.I. lobster fishermen will haul in more money for their catch this spring but it has nothing to do with a negotiated price.

The increase, according to analysts, has more to do with a lower Canadian dollar and a huge demand in Asia.

Shore prices are hovering at $3.75 for canners and $4.25 for markets as Island fishermen start their first full week of the spring fishery. A second dockside buyer is paying $4 for canner and $4.50 for markets.

Even lobster peddlers selling from pick-up trucks were easily selling out over the weekend at $5 canners and $6 markets.

“It’s not where it should be but it’s better than last year and I think it will edge up,’’ says fisherman and Belfast-Murray River MLA Charlie McGeoghegan.

“I think fishermen are a little more optimistic this year.”

Maritime governments appointed panels and compiled reports over the winter all focusing on ways to beef up lobster prices, but many sources say the higher prices simply reflect the supply and demand of the marketplace.

“For the past couple of years, there were too many lobster being landed, in too short a season, and not enough buyers,’’ said one industry analyst privately. “This year is different, there is much more demand and competition.”

P.E.I. fishermen landed 1.7 million pounds more last year than in 2012.

The same industry analyst predicted last year’s dismal shore price of $2.75 and $3.25 in an interview with The Guardian last spring, one week before the season opened.

The terrible prices last year led to wide spread boat tie-ups around the Maritimes. The season was disrupted by about two weeks but the price didn’t change and fishermen facing bank payments went back to the sea.

“Yes, the price is higher but not where we would like it,’’ said Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association. “It should be over $5.”

McGeoghegan said it’s perplexing when Pictou fishermen, just across the Northumberland Strait from his own home, are being paid $4.50 and $5 for the same lobster.

“Someone is sitting at a desk and saying here’s the P.E.I. price, the lowest in the bunch,’’ he said. “So all these panels and reports have done little to take the mystery out of why this is happening.”

An industry report this year from Michael Gardner confirmed lobster landings increased by 70 per cent in both Canada and the U.S. over the past 10 years.

While P.E.I. landings were up in 2013, the low prices pushed the value down. Fishermen landed 28.7 million pounds in 2013 compared to 27 million in 2012; however, the value in 2013 was only $91 million compared to $113 million the year before.

Online analysts suggest there is a huge untapped demand for lobster this year in China following trade show promotions which could bode well for the Atlantic supply.

Meanwhile, there is concern that the record levels of lobster in Maine will subside by next year as population research indicates less young lobster are settling in the region possibly due to warmer weather.

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen, Asia, Iceland Canada U.S. China Maine

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Recent comments

  • Hah
    May 08, 2014 - 20:22

    I wouldn't continue to work at a job that I end up in debt . It's called cut your loss, file bankruptcy or whatever . Why would you keep fishing if you know your not going to make any money the next year or the next etc . My job is dangerous too , along with many others that people work and guess what we have a house and kids and trucks and bills . Fishing is by far not the most dangerous .. Unless of course you cross another fisherman or set traps where someone might have wanted , then you might have a dangerous situation. I think it's time for so e if these fisherman to actually get their GED and put some effort into learning some new skills to find a better job if their so whinny . The only ones that have brains are the ones who go west all winter .. That sucks that they have to but a lot of other trades workers go as well . It's not the prices that are the problem , it's the lifestyle that fisherman have chosen nowadays. Ask any retired fisherman and they will say the younger generation are living beyond their means . Fisherman and some wives make the same if not more then I do at a year round job on their EI. That's not including what they make during seasons they fish . At the end of they day there will never be a price good enough or a catch big enough , it's reality .

    • fisherman daughter
      May 09, 2014 - 11:17

      my father fishes from may to September an then heads out west all winter, I know both life styles so lay off the fisherman!!

  • fisherman daughter
    May 07, 2014 - 19:53

    most of the fisherman/women I know that's all they have done there whole life growing up so why quit something ur good at... they complain because they know they should get more, so if u have no idea what its like being a fisherman/women please keep comments to yourself.... they work hard an they work out in ruff waters!!!

    • Steve Abbey
      May 09, 2014 - 17:21

      Easy fd... do not feed the troll.

  • Hah
    May 07, 2014 - 15:28

    I laugh out loud hearing the constant complaining about how fishers are not making any money. Here's an idea , people usually leave a job that doesn't pay the bills or go back to school and find a job that does pay enough. Most fisherman do not work all year ...unless you count driving to the bank to cash your EI check , but I guess you don't even have to do that anymore since it's direct deposit . Maybe you should just sell out and become a landscaper or farmer , handyman, bus driver, factory worker , gas attendant , carpenter , list goes on . Do you think people really care about how much your not making ? It's hard to believe when ; A) your drive ing a 50-60000 dollar truck, B) go on vacation whole collecting EI ( dunno how that's legit but hay) C) "most"of the wives do not work . Some do . Anyways that's my rant , by the way my job is all year round , hard work and I had to go back to school to get there . I'll gladly pay 4.00 a pound but anything higher is overpriced . World doesn't revolve on lobster . Maybe yas should buy local on other things and maybe people would care a bit more

    • In Reply to Hah
      May 08, 2014 - 13:15

      In regards to your comment Hah, Would you work at a job that cost you more to do than you got in return? No, no you would not! I can FIRST hand tell you that last year many lobster fisherman where working to pay bills, but also going in to debt. Gas, labor, maintenance, supplies, etc, was costing us more than what we were getting in return for our catch. We were left with the decision to tie up, or return out sea in hopes that we could make our payments to the bank. It is NOT easy for all fisherman. We all DO NOT have new trucks. Your ignorance of this lifestyle is comical... Our loans do not allow us to just simply give up what we love in pursuit of something else.

  • Steve Abbey
    May 07, 2014 - 08:17

    I have no problem whatsoever with paying 5 to 6 bucks a pound to the guy who is actually doing the work, we do it here in Barrachois all the time. What irks me is that the buyers begrudge paying that much for what I believe to be the best tasting lobster in Atlantic Canada. @Fitz, it's obvious that you've no clue on how much it costs to run a boat.

  • PEI FISH GUY
    May 07, 2014 - 02:58

    Fishermen in Georgetown were told $3.75 and $4.25 before the gear went in the water .

  • Jimmy Buffet
    May 07, 2014 - 02:52

    Perplexing indeed ! I know a PEI company that has a buyers station on the Caribou wharf for years paying a dollar more a pound .They pay a buyer supply bait and truck back to their plant here for processing, but fishers here put fish right on their scale and get screwed .They also pay an extra 25 cents to get people to sell to them over there .

  • Junket Monkey
    May 06, 2014 - 19:46

    Last year, the price for a small lobster salad at the Marriot in Seoul, South Korea, was around 80 (eighty) Canadian dollars. A large lobster salad went for 125 (one hundred twenty-five) dollars. Think salad - lobster is the finishing touch, not the main ingredient. They sourced Atlantic Canada lobsters for their salad menu and Maine lobster for the dinner plates. If lobster license owners/fishers want to be assured of decent prices from year to year they're going to have to get cooperative and start making deals offshore.

  • Fitz
    May 06, 2014 - 18:59

    So is it official ,the whining is over for this week?

    • Dear Fitz
      May 07, 2014 - 08:24

      FITZ...so you would agree to work at a job and not know the price you're getting paid ? Don't think so.. You're a fisherman hater unfortunately. hope you dont like lobster!

    • Long line of fishermen
      May 07, 2014 - 10:42

      @Fitz Not only do you have no clue about what work, labour and time goes into being a lobster fisherman/woman, but shows your ignorance. This lobster fishery on PEI and other places in the maritimes generates a lot of seasonal jobs for Islanders and lots of others. Wouldn't you "whine" if you were working and not even being able to pay for the cost of working? Bait, fuel, hired help, supplies, boat maintanance/repairs, ......the list goes on and on. Get your head out of the sand and stop the ignornace. They don't just work for two months of the year either, they work year round, most even have to go out West to make the payments on the gears they own, which means making NO REVENUE for a job they work at tirelessly. You should go out on the water with my father, my brother, my cousins or uncles... instead of sitting at your computer behind a fake name typing your ignornace and making a fool out of yourself.

    • Fitz
      May 07, 2014 - 16:34

      If you can't make a living at your job instead of going on about how bad the price is go do something else like any other person does in the real world! If you like fishing do it don't be on compass every second night complaining !Don't think that other people working at their own business don't have just as big bills as you and would like to make more!