Colwell has no right to impose tax on lobster industry

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To the editor,
Last week Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, on behalf of the Liberal government, announced a new five cent a pound lobster tax on all lobster landings in Nova Scotia.

This announcement took the industry by complete surprise. While recently there has been some discussion about a one cent a pound levy for lobster marketing, at no point has the industry approved the five cent tax the Liberals are going to legislate this fall. Quite simply put, the government has not received a mandate from fishers and buyers to impose this tax on their behalf. 

To make matters worse, Minister Colwell has yet to explain what most of this tax will be used for and who will administer his $4 million cash cow. Furthermore, are the other Maritime provinces also going to legislate this five cent a pound tax on lobster landings, or will this tax be applied exclusively to Nova Scotia buyers and fishers?

This isn’t the first time Keith Colwell has been the minister of Fisheries for Nova Scotia. As someone who held the portfolio in the 1990s he should know there is a system in place for making changes. For example, recently Lobster Area 34 voted on whether or not to reduce its number of traps. Licence holders in the region voted to maintain the status quo and as a result the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not reduce the trap limit. If the Liberal government of Nova Scotia wants to make any changes to the lobster industry it must take the same approach. Votes need to be held and consent must be obtained.

At the moment this is not happening and as a result the Liberals are placing the independence of our lobster fishery at risk. As someone who was a lobster fishermen for over 35 years, I want to tell the Minister this is WRONG.

Sterling Belliveau

NDP Fisheries Critic

MLA, Queens – Shelburne

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