Prince Edward Island fishermen will also decide on marketing board week of Oct. 13
© THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel
Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley, left, shakes hands with P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association executive director Dennis King, centre, and P.E.I., Fishermen’s Association executive director Ian MacPherson at a news conference in Charlottetown in this Guardian file photo.
MONTAGUE — A secret vote on the future of both a lobster marketing levy and a marketing board has been pushed back until October for all P.E.I. fishermen.
The Guardian has learned the secret ballot, tentatively planned for Aug. 29, will now be delayed until October — even though northside fishermen in LFA 24 have already voted in approval of the levy.
“We now have a component in the question about the marketing board and that requires LFA 24 voting again,’’ confirmed Ian MacPherson, general manager of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association.
The move comes as a surprise to Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley, who was expecting the vote to be held last Friday.
“It surprises me because forming a marketing board isn’t something you do in a few weeks,’’ he said. “It takes time to apply and set it up and get things running in time for next spring.”
The vote will now be held during the week of Oct. 13 and done secretly. MacPherson said the delays, if any, will just have to be overcome since the confirmation that fishermen are compliant on both questions is tantamount.
The concept of a levy and marketing board is to help raise the price of lobster from raw resource landing prices to marketing strategies for better returns.
The delay is prompted not only by the fall lobster season now ongoing, but the exact wording of the question for both a levy and a marketing board.
While some fishermen endorse a levy, a penny a pound jointly with the process sector to market lobster, others fear a marketing board will become nothing more than a junket for those appointed.
The Maritime Lobster Panel recommended earlier this year a one-cent-per-pound levy for both fishermen and processors as a way to raise funds for marketing strategies. The levy paid by both sectors would raise up to $500,000 for lobster marketing initiatives on P.E.I. Nova Scotia has already endorsed a levy and the combined lobster fishing areas between the two provinces could then form a marketing board if a consensus was reached.
MacPherson told a government standing committee earlier this month that a marketing board would have to be transparent with money spent well documented.