Vote on lobster levy coming, says PEIFA

Executive members of the association make presentation before legislative standing committee

Dave Stewart
Published on August 6, 2014

Ian MacPherson, left, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, says a board meeting will be held in the next two weeks to decide how to proceed with a vote on a lobster marketing levy for P.E.I. Also pictured is Craig Avery, a member of the association’s board of directors.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

The executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association told provincial MLAs they are proceeding with a vote on a lobster marketing levy.

Ian MacPherson appeared before the Standing Committee on Fisheries on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re having a board meeting in the next week or two and we’re going to highlight our question and get that out to the LFAs (Lobster Fishing Areas),’’ MacPherson told the media after getting the same message across to the committee. “We’ll try to get their read on that and move forward.’’

He’s talking about the exact wording of the question that will ask Island fishermen whether they’re in favour of a levy. The North Shore (LFA 24) has already voted in favour of it.

The Maritime Lobster Panel has recommended a one-cent-per-pound levy for both fishermen and processors as a way to raise funds for marketing strategies. Such a levy would generate up to $500,000 for lobster marketing initiatives here, if matched by processors and buyers.

Last week, the Nova Scotia government announced a five-cent levy within its boundaries as a way to initiate more sales. The plan is to levy two cents a pound for generic marketing efforts and three cents a pound for a quality pilot project to realize greater economic return and expand new markets.

If fishermen in all three areas say yes, and the fishermen’s association believes they will, the next step would be to set up a lobster marketing board and that would require an Islandwide vote.

MacPherson said part of the reason they want to create a board is for transparency. People will want to know how the money is being spent.

“They would want a detailed business plan and (information on) who is administering the program.’’

MacPherson said he’s optimistic it could all happen by next spring.

“In a perfect world it would have been done before the spring but there are a lot of other issues we’re dealing with, too, not just the levy.’’

Craig Avery, a member of the board of directors with the association and the head of the Western Gulf region, also appeared before the committee.

Avery and MacPherson also noted for MLAs it would be nice to have more than one or two processors at the discussion table to offer input.

“If we can have those meetings again it would be great to have more players represented at the table going forward,’’ MacPherson said. “At the end of the day you want people who are willing to be there.’’

They also talked to the MLAs about setting a minimum price for lobster.

“That’s the question, whether we can do it on our own or have it legislated. I guess we would have to see if that’s the direction P.E.I. wants to go in.’’

On the issue of additional cold and live storing of lobsters, Alberton-Roseville MLA Pat Murphy asked whether there should be one at each port or a centralized facility.

Avery said ideally there would be one for each area.