Canadian fishermen protest Maine lobster
FREDERICTON, New Brunswick—Appealing for calm after angry protests by lobstermen, industry officials in New Brunswick agreed Friday to a minimum price to be paid for lobster as well as further talks with the government aimed at obtaining additional compensation for Canadian lobstermen hurt by low prices and imports from Maine.
The announcement followed a meeting of fishermen and processers with provincial Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp a day after hundreds of lobstermen staged demonstrations at several lobster-processing plants in New Brunswick.
During one protest, lobstermen in Shediac turned back a truckload of lobsters from Maine, and there were similar incidents at a pair of lobster-processing plants in Cap-Pel.
There's currently a glut of Maine-caught lobster, contributing to depressed prices. Some Maine lobstermen resorted to tying up their boats, but the market glut and low prices have persisted.
The agreement announced Friday calls for a minimum to be paid by lobster-processing plants of $2.50 per pound for processed lobster and $3 per pound for live market lobsters to Canadian fishermen, along with discussions with the government to offer further assistance.
On Friday, Olscamp and industry officials appealed for calm as fishermen prepare to start their summer lobster season next week in the Northumberland Strait.
"The best solution is to take a pause and give an opportunity of those sitting at the table, to give them a possibility to find the best solution without having protests at this point and time," said Christian Brun of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.
But fishermen said it's not fair that inexpensive Maine lobster was being imported just as they prepare to begin their summer lobster season. One of the protesters, Maurice Martin, said that by importing cheap lobster the processing plants risk "destroying his living."
In Maine, Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Kelliher said he was troubled by news that Canadian processing plants were being blockaded and said state officials are "taking any and all action necessary to remedy this situation."
"I take this situation very seriously, and am working to avoid any further disruption to the markets that could complicate an already difficult lobster season in Maine," Kelliher said in a statement.