Not there yet solving problems

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Considering a standoff over lobster prices last year prompted fishermen to stay tied up for several days in protest, it would be a stretch to see all problems solved in a season.

That might be an understatement. In many ways, with prices low and fears they could drop more, we’re seeing a replay of some of the woes: fishermen measuring costs against paycheques and getting more nervous by the day.

The Maritime Lobster Panel formed last year in wake of those troubles is working to address issues, but not surprisingly it’s looking like a job for the longer term, with smoother marketing being a big issue – particularly considering the glut some buyers are blaming.

Processors in some areas have said they haven’t the capacity nor enough workers to keep pace with what has been an upswing in catch with the improved weather. With only two months to the local season, suggestions to fishermen to take a few days off, or to follow some sort of quota system, don’t sit well.

One Guysborough County fisherman, Jeremy Stevens, said in a story carried by The Canadian Press that he has had to anchor his catches off the harbour in crates until someone will buy them. Sounds like a good last-ditch effort, but not everyone can do that.

Ronnie Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Union, suggested this week a possible solution that could relieve such short-term mismatches in supply and demand. He said stakeholders in this area could seek federal funds to build holding facilities, adding that such a storage capacity already in southwest Nova Scotia allows them to hang on to product for longer periods.

Alongside that, it’s looking like a lot more needs to be done to move fresh product. Fishermen and processors generally agreed with the panel’s idea that a levy on product could help marketing reach into new territory. Considering plenty of people in other parts of Canada and Europe would love to have this product available, that sounds like a good plan.

Organizations: Maritime Lobster Panel, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Guysborough County, Northumberland Fishermen, Nova Scotia Canada Europe

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