NDP Leader Mike Redmond says more work needs to be done on solutions for low lobster prices
Prince Edward Island legislative assembly
The P.E.I. legislature will likely close today, but NDP Leader Mike Redmond believes it should remain open to allow lawmakers to try and work out a solution on low lobster prices.
With prices only marginally better than last year and fishermen voicing serious concerns, Redmond says more work must be done to come up with solutions.
“We’re in the exact same place we were a year ago, there’s still no equality in terms of our price points for our lobster fishermen, and moreover this year there’s less of a catch because of the cold water,” Redmond said.
He believes the MLAs need to get to the bottom of the low prices problem with more meaningful dialogue and debate.
“It’s really a difficult time for the lobster fishermen, we’re getting the calls and the frustration is obvious … we would hope at some point there would be good dialogue and debate and that’s obviously not happened.”
The issue of lobster prices has been a common one throughout this session of the legislature, raised often by Opposition fisheries critic Colin LaVie.
It was raised once again Tuesday when LaVie raised the concerns of fishermen about how Nova Scotia lobster fishers are getting $1 per pound more for their catches than P.E.I. fishermen.
He questioned Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley’s credibility on the whole file.
“Fishers say that this minister is a disgrace because he is doing nothing to help the fishing industry on P.E.I.,” LaVie said.
“Minister, why can’t you understand that the vital industry needs a minister who is prepared to do some hard work for the fishery on P.E.I.?”
As he has many times throughout the session, MacKinley stated the issue is one that must be resolved among the fishers, buyers and processors.
He continues to point to the Natural Products Marketing Act, which could allow fishermen to set their own price for lobsters.
“The minister of fisheries for the province of P.E.I. doesn’t set the price for lobsters, same as you don’t set the price for any other commodity,” MacKinley said.
“We can’t tell the fishers what they’ve got to sell it for as minister, and we can’t tell the processors what they got to pay. It’s under supply and demand.”
But Redmond said he is growing increasingly frustrated by these answers from MacKinley.
“He puts his hands up and he talks about it being a capitalist system,” Redmond said.
“If he says there’s nothing he can do, then I question why he is even minister of fisheries of why we even have a minister of fisheries? Because it seems to be an awful waste of money for something that he says there’s nothing he can do about prices.”
Redmond said he wants MacKinley to show leadership on the file, get the players around the table and get the issue sorted out.
But he also had some harsh words for the Opposition Tories.
“We really feel there has been no leadership by this minister, but we also think that the Opposition has a responsibility to ask the right questions. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame, but let’s try and find some real solutions so our fishermen can actually have a livelihood.”