© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Optimism abounds for stronger prices as spring lobster season approaches
P.E.I. lobster fishermen learned a hard lesson a year ago. There was optimistic talk for several months prior to the opening of the spring lobster season that prices were going to rebound nicely from disastrous numbers in 2012. The optimism was based on higher shore prices being paid in southwestern Nova Scotia and Maine, and strong prices in the Boston market. But huge landings in those zones meant the market was saturated when May 1 arrived and P.E.I. prices again hit rock bottom.
Much has happened since P.E.I. lobster fishermen tied up boats and held a mass demonstration last May. We’ve had two lobster reports, there are efforts to set a minimum shore price before fishermen set traps, a marketing levy for lobster has strong P.E.I. support and there will be closer scrutiny of market prices.
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and her P.E.I. counterpart Ron MacKinley are giving assurances about supporting recommendations in the reports. DFO is behind an electronic point-of-sale data collection system for tracking lobster catches available in real time. But Ms. Shea has rejected any more federal dollars for additional licence retirement or rationalization programs.
The mood is upbeat at the huge Boston seafood expo this week which has attracted approximately 100 industry representatives from the Island where buyers are talking about P.E.I. lobster and placing orders, all helped by the lower Canadian dollar. Free trade deals should open up additional markets with the European Union and South Korea within the next year.
Despite the anticipation about better prices, a major N.S. fish company cautioned these indicators could change quickly, especially as more product is landed and enters the market. P.E.I. fishermen plan more talks with local processors where PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan is hoping to find some goodwill and a good price. A major lobster expo is planned in Halifax the end of March where some lingering issues might be finally firmed up.
The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association says it will likely go ahead with the marketing levy, even if the other Maritime Provinces pass on the idea. It would be unfortunate if other Maritime provinces fail to support the levy, a key recommendation from the Maritime report. Fishermen have indicated a price of $3 per pound or lower for canners will be unacceptable May 1 so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next five to six weeks.
Bridges nabs bronze
Amid the accolades pouring in for P.E.I Olympians Heather Moyse and Mark Arenz, it should be noted that Summerside’s Billy Bridges is coming home with a bronze medal in sledge hockey from the Paralympics in Sochi. Mr. Bridges said his biggest disappointment in sports came in Vancouver when Team Canada narrowly lost out on a medal.
The team was determined to make amends in Sochi where Mr. Bridges was the hero with two goals as Canada defeated Norway 3-0 in the bronze medal game on Saturday. Mr. Bridges had three goals and two assists in five games in Sochi as he wrapped up his fourth Olympics. He hopes to make Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in South Korea in four years but realizes there will be stiff competition from younger athletes.
Meanwhile Ms. Moyse has been named an athlete role model for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, from Aug. 16 to 28. The role model program brings in 37 Olympic champions from numerous sports to act as mentors for their younger counterparts. Moyse was selected to mentor the new athletes of the new Olympic sport of Rugby 7s. Bravo, Heather.