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Lobster fishermen protest price decline for catch in Shediac, N.B.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick lobster fishermen protest low prices' New Brunswick lobster fishermen protest low prices
WATCH: One week into the season, lobster fishermen in New Brunswick are protesting the price they’re receiving for their catch. At roughly $4.50 a pound, the price is 40 per cent lower than it was last year, while costs of production have gone up. Suzanne Lapointe reports – Aug 18, 2022

One week into lobster fishing season, lobster fishermen gathered in droves to protest against the price they’re being offered for their catch in front of the Homarus Eco-Centre tourist attraction on Shediac, N.B.’s Main Street.

They said they’re insulted by the 40-per cent price decrease as compared to last year.

Luc LeBlanc, who serves as a fisheries adviser for Zone 25 for the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said in an interview on Thursday, “(The fishermen are) receiving $4.50 a pound which is well underneath the break-even point for a fisherman in 2022.

“In 2022 a fisherman requires at least $6.00 a pound to even break even so an equitable price would be $6.50 to $7.00”

Read more: ‘Our lobsters are gold plated now’: Atlantic Canada lobster exports, prices soar

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The prices are set by the processing plants and fish brokers.

“There’s no central unit or no central bargaining; it doesn’t exist in fishing,” LeBlanc said.

Global News has reached out to the Maritime Lobster Processors Association as well as the Lobster Council of Canada for comment.

LeBlanc said the fishermen were only notified of the price five days into the season. Normally they find out how much they will be paid a few days before it starts.

“Part of the problem is this void of information they’re left to guess how their books are gonna look like,” LeBlanc said.

Read more: Indigenous chiefs in N.B. say Fisheries Department officers ignoring fishing rights

Lobster fisherman Scott Johnson said his books have never looked this bleak since he started fishing in 1987.

“I’m one of the cheaper ones. I run 500 litres of diesel a day,” he said.

“A box of bait is $50 at 45 pounds and now you’re looking at around 20 boxes a day. We need seven bucks (per pound).”

He said with the price of fuel and bait going up while the price of lobster is going down, he’s concerned about the viability of lobster fishing as a profession long term.

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“We want our younger generation to get into this but like this, they can’t survive. It’s impossible,” he said.

He has already set traps this season, and said he is considering giving away his catch rather than selling to factories to make his point.

“Why not give it to the people instead of giving it to the factory? Why (help) them get rich?!” he said.

Lobster season continues until Oct. 12.

While Johnson is prepared to protest as long as it takes, LeBlanc said while most of the fishermen in Zone 25 weren’t fishing on Thursday, it’s unclear how many are prepared to stick it out for the whole season.

“It depends on their financial situation. Some of them are willing to stay tied up to the wharf for the forseeable future, others aren’t, so we’ll see where it goes,” LeBlanc said.

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