© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Carl Gallant of North Rustico was on the wharf Saturday April 19, 2014 getting some his lobster traps ready for the opening of the season April 30. The ice in some harbours and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be a problem for fishermen but most are not worried. The main thing on their mind is the price that will be paid for lobster.
Editor: April showers bring Mayflowers; the fisherman’s mood sours. OK, I never said I was a poet, but I think the sentiment is true. All winter we’ve heard about meetings between the lobster fishers, the processors and the government, trying to solve the yearly price dilemma.
The fishers aren’t making any money with the recent prices, and the processors say they aren’t making any. Talk to the grocery chains and they say their profit margins are paper-thin. I don’t know where the money is going, but we’re not getting a lobster dinner for ten bucks anymore.
But while I read these repetitive tales of woe (and I do feel for the fishers trying to make a buck), I also read about Island potato farmers signing contracts with the processors long before the tractor wheels begin to turn. They know what they’re getting paid before they plant the crop.
So, let’s look at the two commodities: potatoes and lobster — both food products; both sold as a separate food entity (table stock potatoes; whole live or cooked lobster), or used extensively in processing. Both subject to climate extremes — too much or too little rain for potatoes, heavy ice, high winds hinder fishing.
The biggest difference? The potato farmers have their contract with the producers every year; the fishers do not. Why not? Can someone explain that to me?