Lobster fishermen denounce prices that are too low and refuse to fish

According to fishermen, the prices at the wharf are 40% lower than those received last year. They are asking to receive between $6 and $7 a pound, as was the case last year. Since the beginning of the week, fishermen have been offered between $4.50 and $5.50 a pound, which is not profitable, they say, because of their expenses which have increased due to the inflation.

Luc LeBlanc, fishing advisor at the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (UPM) confirms that a majority of lobster fishermen in area 25, but not all, did not go out fishing Thursday morning. However, even though theUPM supports the approach of these fishermen, it is not involved in the organization of the demonstration, described as spontaneous.

It’s spontaneous, mixed with a business decision. It is impossible for a fisherman to make a profitable outing at $4.50. It does not workhe said.

Luc LeBlanc invites fishermen and processors to talk to each other.

Photo: Radio Canada

The UPM sets the break-even point this year at $6. Luc LeBlanc addressed the fishermen at the demonstration. He hopes their actions will at least start a dialogue with buyers.

We have fishermen who are really unhappy with the prices received by the factories and the lack of communication from the factories.points out Mr. LeBlanc.

It’s impossible for a fishing company to make a profit at that price, so we’re going to have problems. »

A quote from Luc LeBlanc, fisheries advisor at the Maritime Fishermen’s Union

Worried about the future

Fishermen present at the demonstration expressed concern for the future of the industry.

Marc Daigle.

Marc Daigle thinks that the difficulties of the industry can reverberate in all the communities of the region.

Photo: Radio Canada

It has a big impact on everything. There is an impact on the community […] You won’t be able to live. »

A quote from Marc Daigle, fisherman

Stéphane Jaillet, from the Quai de Saint-Édouard, is also disappointed.

We do not accept the price. It’s not to make millions, it’s just so that we [arrive] at the end of the week. […] If we don’t have $6, I raise my cageshe says.

Denis Surette, from the Quai de Saint-Édouard, also thinks that if companies like his experience financial difficulties, there could be a domino effect in coastal communities. He says he spoke to a shipbuilder whose order book has seen several cancellations.

Denis Surette.

Denis Surette is fishing at the Saint-Édouard wharf. He finds the situation disturbing.

Photo: Radio Canada

He might fire 10-12 guys. And it’s just a shop. Do you see where this is going?

The fisherman would not be surprised if fishermen go bankrupt if prices do not go up soon. He also wonders if the record prices obtained in recent years will not have a perverse effect, since fishermen have invested a lot of money to buy licenses or equipment.

“It will not change anything”, believes a representative of the processors

The fishermen’s action is an attempt to force the hand of buyers – the processing plants – to raise prices. But this attempt which risks falling flat, according to a representative of the processors.

This kind of action does not in any way change the market conditions that we have been observing for the past four months or the market outlook for the coming months.says Nat Richard, executive director of the Maritime Lobster Processors Association.

I understand the frustration, we understand the disappointment which is very real, but as much as the fishermen are not obliged to fish, the factories are not obliged to pay prices which are not profitablehe adds.

Maritime Lobster Processors Association Executive Director Nat Richard on August 16, 2022.

Maritime Lobster Processors Association Executive Director Nat Richard.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Nicolas Steinbach

Processing plants, which themselves employ thousands of workers in the southeastern part of the province, are struggling with large inventories of unsold products due to the slowdown in markets.

Stopping fishing will not help this situation.

Market conditions are so complicated that my concern is that if the factories do not have a stable and predictable supply of product, there may be some who will choose, if it lasts, to close the doors to the yearbelieves Nat Richard.

Record prices during the pandemic

Prices for lobster have hit record highs during the pandemic. Exports reached a threshold of $3.2 billion, according to the Maritime Lobster Processors Association.

Several people on the wharf at dawn in front of the fishing boats loaded with lobster traps.

Fishing began on August 11 in area 25.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Oceane Doucet

The fishing season in Area 25 started last week and ends October 12.

This area includes fishers from southeastern New Brunswick and southwestern Prince Edward Island. For the moment, the fishermen of the island continue their activities normally.

With information from Nicolas Steinbach

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