Lobster: fishing is not profitable this year, deplore fishermen

The atmosphere was not festive at the Cap-Pelé wharf on Tuesday afternoon. Fishermen have learned what price they will get for lobster this season: between $4.50 and $5 a pound. Last year at this time they were getting $7 a pound.

We have prices, but it’s not strong. They say it’s stuck everywhere that lobster don’t sell, that’s the reason explains Captain Guy Cormier. I take it one day at a time, we are not dead today.

At the Cap-Pelé wharf, fishermen are not satisfied with the price they receive for their catch.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Nicolas Steinbach

It’s annoying, but it’s no use crying about it. We’ll just know how much we made once we’re done with the season adds Captain Norbert Gaudet philosophically.

A fall in prices that hurts fishermen

At this price, captains are fishing at a loss according to the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (UPM).

The organization receives calls from fishermen, often new to the industry and who fear going bankrupt if prices do not go up.

Fishing companies may not arrive this year. At $4.50, $5, we are talking about a price that is below the break-even point for a fishing business explains Luc LeBlanc, Fisheries Advisor at theUPM.

Freshly caught lobster, at the wharf in Cap-Pelé, in southeastern New Brunswick, on August 16, 2022.

Freshly caught lobster, at the wharf in Cap-Pelé, in southeastern New Brunswick.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Nicolas Steinbach

The Maritime Fishermen’s Union estimates that for their business to be profitable, fishermen must earn at least $6 a pound.

It takes at least $7 to running them rigs what we have there. Everything goes up, the fuel is more expensive, the bouette, the deckhands you have to pay for them too estimates for his part the captain Norbert Gaudet.

However, the industry is not prepared to guarantee this price.

Unfortunately, hope is not what makes a market. We have commercial realities with which we must deal. We all want it, I want fishermen to be able to earn a good living. But there’s no guarantee [que les prix vont augmenter] and we take it week by week explains Nat Richard, Executive Director of the Maritime Lobster Processors Association.

A return of the pendulum after a lucrative pandemic

Fishermen have had golden years during the pandemic, argues Nat Richard.

Last year we reached an unprecedented threshold of 3.2 billion exports. The entire industry, from the fisherman to the processor, has benefited from it, we have faced an absolutely incredible demand.

This year, the markets are in sharp decline.

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

The economic context has changed a lot and has darkened a lot in recent months. We are constantly being told about the risk of recession, we know the impact Ukraine has had, we are making a slow exit from COVID. The market is losing momentum and weakening. So if the markets are weaker, the prices paid to fishermen will be lower. says Nat Richard.

Cold stores are full of unsold shellfish from previous seasons, the result of product dribbling away.

Pressure tactics?

L’UPM evokes possible means of pressure, if the situation does not evolve in favor of the fishermen during the next days or the next weeks.

Luc LeBlanc, fisheries advisor with the Maritime Fishermen's Union.

Luc LeBlanc, fisheries advisor with the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Nicolas Steinbach

Fishermen could, for example, decide not to fish or to fish less. This would limit access to the resource for other players in the industry, such as processors, which would have a negative impact on their profits.

Keep an eye out in the next week there will be changes for sure because anglers will be forced to break even or at least cut their losses and essentially stop fishing says Luc LeBlanc, the theUPM.

The lobster season in Area 25, which spans southeastern New Brunswick and southwestern Prince Edward Island, ends Oct. 12.

Based on a report by Nicolas Steinbach.

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