Fall fishery facing falling lobster prices
Lobster Council of Canada fears strengthening Canadian dollar may impact prices for Prince Edward Island lobster
Size may matter when it comes to the fall lobster fishery.
Bobby Jenkins, Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association president, says there is a much smaller number of fishermen harvesting lobster in the fall, compared with the Island’s spring fishery.
That, he said, may help maintain prices, but there are storm clouds on the horizon.
P.E.I.’s fall lobster fishermen set their gear in the Northumberland Strait between Victoria and North Cape on Tuesday. They share the lobster fishing zone with New Brunswick fishermen and a few harvesters from Nova Scotia.
The first full catches of the season will be landed today.
“We’re wishing our fishers in Area 25 a good season. Hopefully they get a good price,” Jenkins said.
He admitted he’s heard nothing about inventories in six weeks but feels that with a lot less lobsters coming in at this time of year compared with the spring, demand should be strong.
Jenkins’ optimism is tempered, however, by a cautious outlook being presented by the Lobster Council of Canada concerning the recent strengthening of the Canadian dollar in relation to the American currency.
Relative to the U.S. dollar, the council noted in a news release Tuesday, the Canadian dollar has strengthened, putting pressure on Canadian lobster processors and live shippers to increase selling prices.
Exporters of live and processed lobster maintain inventory through periods of minimal fishing activity, the council noted, and, therefore, are subject to changes in the value of their inventory based on currency fluctuations.
Lobster products are generally priced in US dollars.
Jerry Amirault, president of the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Lobster Processors Association, said via the council’s news release that the strengthening dollar is hurting the lobster industry, the communities in which the plants operate and the whole Atlantic region.
“While a strong dollar helps Canadians buy wine from California or travel to New York City for a holiday, it is the last thing we want as exporters of Canadian seafood products,” said the council’s executive director, Geoff Irvine.
Jenkins expressed hope the Island’s lobster marketing board, which is funded through a one-cent per pound levy, paid by lobster fishermen on the product they sell and by the first point of sale buyers, will help keep lobster prices high. He suggested there could be opportunities for joint promotions going forward between the marketing board and the fishermen’s association’s Master Lobster Brand.
The provincial president said his association is watching to see what the impact of a two millimetre increase in carapace length will have on landings. He said the association lobbied since last year to slow the increase to just 1 mm, “but the PEIFA wasn’t listened to on that one.”
This year’s increase follows a 1 mm increase last fall.
Miminegash fishermen face rough seas as they head out to set their traps early Tuesday morning. Fishermen are hoping for strong prices, but a strengthening Canadian dollar may impact fall lobster prices.
Long lines of boats, including the Second Wind, make their way out of Miminegash harbour early Tuesday morning. It is the start of the fall lobster season, and the first feeds of lobster will be hitting the wharves later today.