N.B. lobster fishermen push to make sure aid package gets to those in need

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MONCTON, N.B. - A group that represents lobster fishermen in southeastern New Brunswick has set its sights on money left over from the federal government`s $15 million short-term aid package for the industry.
The fund was set up to help lobster fishermen struggling to pay their bills after a season that saw the wharf price for lobster drop 30 per cent drop when compared with last year.
The executive director of the Maritime Fishermen`s Union, Christian Brun, said the organization is planning to meet with the Fisheries Department early in the new year to discuss ways to distribute leftover cash from the emergency fund.
When the fund was announced in the fall, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said she expected that 3,000 of the 10,000 lobster enterprises in Atlantic Canada and Quebec would qualify for financial aid.
Brun estimates the actual number will be much lower.
"The minister promised that she would help 3,000 fishermen, and we are convinced 3,000 fishermen haven't had access to that money," said Brun.
The short-term aid package provides a one-time payment of $5,000 to fishermen who qualify.
But Brun said the eligibility requirements were too strict.
"It seems like there would be some money still sitting there," he said.
"We are asking to meet the minister to propose what could be a second phase of the fund because we do not accept that that money will stay in the government`s coffers."
Brun said the union wants the government to ease the rules.
"We are going to propose something so that more fishermen who didn't qualify will be able to receive some support," said Brun.

Organizations: Fisheries Department

Geographic location: MONCTON, New Brunswick, Maritime Fishermen Atlantic Canada Quebec

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