P.E.I. Fishermen's Association wants money for market intelligence

Eric McCarthy
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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.

ALBERTON - In Atlantic Canada's lobster fishery about a billion dollars changes hands annually, says Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association.

"Where is the money going? Follow the money and you'll get your answer."

McGeoghegan was making a pitch to have the governments of the Atlantic Provinces fund a market intelligence exchange for the industry.

Market intelligence is something that two reports on the lobster fishery recommended last year.

The reports also recommended a marketing levy with some of the monies collected being applied towards funding market intelligence.

Trouble is, the levy is not likely to be collected until at least next year, and McGeoghegan said the market intelligence is needed now.

The PEIFA believes industry should help fund the market intelligence once the levy is set up, but contends the industry can't wait until then, pressing for interim funding from the provinces to get things moving.

Prices have stalled at $3.75 a pound for canners and $4.25 a pound for markets, despite catches that are considerably off last year's rate.

Although the price per pound is a full dollar better than last spring, considering the drop in landings, McGeoghegan doubts if the landed value has moved upward.

The lower landings and an improvement in exchange rates for export purposes should have powered a greater increase, he suggested.

"I would think it would be higher. Eight years ago they were $6.50 and $5.50

"How come we can't seem to capture that market back again? What's going on in the marketing world that we can't seem to get back on level playing ground?" McGeoghegan questioned.

"Information is power, and right now we're lacking information. That's the problem with our industry right now: we're ignorant of what really goes on and what's happening in our industry."

"The more information you know, the better equipped you are to make a rational decision," he said, suggesting fishermen have actually been in operating in a vacuum for the past century with respect to lobster prices.

"We need to end the mystery in this industry and assist all sectors in becoming profitable," he stated.

COLD WATER

McGeoghegan blames this spring's lower landings on colder than normal water temperature.

Catches soared on May 19 but the water temperature has backed off four degrees since then and landings have dropped accordingly, he said.

He acknowledges landings could take a step forward if weather conditions improve.

The president admits he is aware some Islanders are getting tired of lobster fishermen "whining" over poor prices, and he said he's tired of it too, arguing it would stop if prices climbed to a reasonable level. They need to be a bare minimum of $5 per pound, he maintained.

"I want to be able to say, ‘listen, we're doing good. The price is good, the fish are good, the fishermen are doing well. The industry is running fine.'"

But right now, he said, millions needs to be spent on boats and equipment here on P.E.I. and that can't happen until the price improves.

"Lets get to the place where we don't have to do this anymore - all the cards are on the table, everybody knows where the money is going, flowing back and forth, where the profit level is, and how do we give the consumer a better product than what we're giving him right now, so that when he's happy we're happy."

"Let's get this thing up and running, because it's needed," he said of market intelligence. "It's needed in the industry in order for us to move forward."

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen, Atlantic Canada, Atlantic Provinces COLD WATER

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Recent comments

  • reality
    May 29, 2014 - 09:13

    never did like the smell of fish --and it seems to be getting stinkier by the day

  • fish plant worker
    May 29, 2014 - 08:52

    you are right mr. McGeoghegan. we are tired of all your whining. I remember when lobster was 5 dollars a lb and fisherman were even whining then. it doesn't matter how much you get u will always want more.if you want to know about working for nothing come work in a fish plant for mimimum wage.all the fisherman I know seem to be living pretty good.

  • No more handouts please
    May 29, 2014 - 07:33

    If their business plain make sense, any bank will be willing to loan them money. If not, they should get out of that business before they are in too deep.

  • phil
    May 28, 2014 - 20:32

    When are. fishermen gonna learn life doesn't owe them a income that matches What they want to spend on toys and trips?

  • fisher
    May 28, 2014 - 19:32

    If they aren't going to collect the levy until later on, why doesn't the association take a loan out from the bank and pay it back when they collect the levy.

  • Fisherman
    May 28, 2014 - 15:33

    I have the answer for the fisherman who want higher prices! Boat quotas the price is set before the season starts and you bring in what the processor require on that week! It works in other fisheries you just need the fisherman to come together and help themselves instead of looking for taxpayers to foot their bills

  • Mike McPhail
    May 28, 2014 - 14:10

    I wish someone would fund a study for me on how I can make more money to travel to Florida and buy a new truck and have my wife stay home and look after my children. any ideas McGeoghegan.

    • Mary
      June 05, 2014 - 14:51

      What do you want him to Walk on water! ha. No Man Has It Easy Any More, from What I am seeing here on this Page and Story, Most Of YOU are Complaing on here Quite Well. NO Man Has an Easy job working on the Waters ways of the world or on Land, Everyone Likes To Point Fingers at Everyone But themselves, you Point One Finger Means 3 are String back At YOU! 3 Out Weighs 1 don't you say...Truth Hurts ha..

  • STOP THE DRAIN
    May 28, 2014 - 13:31

    Again with the whining. more taxpayers dollars to fund your business because of incompetence on the part of both fishermen and processors. Both parties are so used to having their arms up to the elbows in the taxpayers pockets that they cannot think for themselves. This country would be in the same state as this province if all businesses in Canada took the attitude that it was up to the taxpayers to advertise, market, and then buy your product thus leaving you to only walk or drive to the bank with your profits. YOUR BUSINESS, START TREATING IT AS A BUSINESS AND NOT A FREE GIFT FROM THE TAXPAYERS.

  • Here We Go Again
    May 28, 2014 - 11:29

    Begging again , prices are up & still these fishers are begging again for taxpayers money with the season just started . Just like spoiled children , never enough . Time to cut them loose & treat them like the business people they really are . Self employed so no EI . There isn't any other business that gets EI from their self employment . Equal treatment for all is the right way for this country to go .

    • High-Roller
      May 28, 2014 - 18:11

      While I don't necessarily disagree with you, I will point out that every other small business can form a corporation and pay dividends to save income tax. Fishers are at a major disadvantage at tax time, even though they do get very lackadaisical treatment when it comes to EI.