Fall fish­ery fac­ing fall­ing lob­ster prices

Lob­ster Coun­cil of Canada fears strength­en­ing Canadian dol­lar may im­pact prices for Prince Ed­ward Is­land lob­ster

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY ERIC MC­CARTHY

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.

NI­COLE DEAGLE/SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN

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.

NI­COLE DEAGLE/SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN

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.

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