Dispute within lobster industry doesn’t help

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LOBSTER FISHERY

Fishermen stressing price over marketing amid fears of no changes as season nears

The virtuous circle is what drives profitability and consumer satisfaction in many industries and it’s no different in the lobster fishery. We depend on fishermen to land a quality product, which is then purchased and sold in top condition to a consumer who will appreciate the price and quality and look for more. Each of the three main cogs in that wheel depend heavily on the other. While it starts with the fishermen and ends on the consumer’s plate, there are many stops in between which determine success or failure in the marketplace.

The spat on the weekend during the P.E.I Fishermen’s Association annual meeting saw two factions square off in an unnecessary standoff. The PEIFA is concerned with price while the Lobster Council of Canada is concerned with marketing and their differences spilled over during the meeting. The average fisherman looks on and is increasingly worried that the spring lobster season opens in just over seven weeks, and except for the possibility of a one cent per pound marketing levy, it seems not much has changed from a year ago. No one wants a repeat of the calamitous spring of 2013.

Everyone has a role to play in turning around this vitally important sector. Fishermen must deliver the freshest product in the best condition possible to the buyer. Marketing must improve to sell more lobster to more people at a price people will support. The consumer must get past a rigid view that lobster is a luxury dish to be consumed several times a year instead of being a regular part of our diet.

Fishermen are anxious to get some kind of base price before they set sail April 30. They don’t want to be surprised and disappointed with a price below the cost of production a week or two into the season and then scramble to scratch out a razor-thin profit for the next six or seven weeks. More trouble is brewing.

A poll conducted in 2013 for the PEIFA indicates a large part of the problem lives right here in Atlantic Canada. Consumers are out of touch with the reality existing inside the lobster industry. Many think lobster prices remained the same during the past five years, are unaware of landing prices and believe fishermen receive lots of government support. It appears any marketing campaign has to be redirected at Atlantic Canadians. As Red Lobster advertises so effectively, we have to ‘seafood differently.’

 

Jack is back

 

The Jack Frost Children’s Winterfest made a successful return to Charlottetown last weekend, leaving one to wonder how it was the city ever allowed it to slip away for a year? There was lots of snow down, a little more fell Sunday and it was cold enough that ice sculptures and other dazzling winter displays were in no danger of melting at the whim of a fickle Mother Nature.

There was some apprehension that the later start this year might see issues with milder weather in early March but certainly not last weekend and not this winter. Organizers were a little late getting things going after Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. and other sponsors stepped forward to resurrect the popular children’s winter festival but all reports indicate it was the most successful festival in history with a number of sellouts to various events.

Islander Day weekend wasn’t the same without Jack Frost last year and again last month. Hopefully the festival will return to the same weekend as the provincial winter holiday in 2015. Kudos goes to the Confederation Bridge, ACOA, the province, the capital city and other sponsors for stepping forward to entertain thousands of children and their families.

Organizations: Lobster Council of Canada, Red Lobster, Strait Crossing Bridge

Geographic location: P.E.I Fishermen, Atlantic Canada, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Harbour Joe
    March 06, 2014 - 20:41

    I saw a helicopter today and figured it was likley a united nations food drop to the needy lobster fishing familys of PEI . We need to mobilize a huge effort to feed the masses of fishermen lined up for food and shelter . Here is some news for you many islanders are stressing about the upcoming spring and the PEI economy and thats without 2 26 week fishing EI claims .

  • mm
    March 06, 2014 - 18:44

    The quote " A poll conducted in 2013 for the PEIFA indicates a large part of the problem lives right here in Atlantic Canada. Consumers are out of touch with the reality existing inside the lobster industry. Many think lobster prices remained the same during the past five years, are unaware of landing prices and believe fishermen receive lots of government support " is full of errors. 1st of all, most Atlantic consumers really don't care how much fisherman make they have their own financial issues to deal with and no matter what anyone tells you lobster will never be a food staple and will always be a special treat for most. The Lobster Council of Canada must be on crack to think that most families can afford lobster as a staple food. No amount of advertising will change that, only lower , affordable prices will. Secondly, fisherman do get government help and lots of it, Special EI benefits , low interest loans , and business expenses to write off against their profits. And lastly none of this changes the fact that no price is set before they head out fishing, and no amount of media coverage will change anything. All the lobster fisherman, need to get together,r and say we need $'s to go out fishing, Have them set the price or stay home and collect more government hand outs (EI) or maybe find other year round employment like the majority of Canadians