Lobster fishermen face bleak season

Sherry Martell
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Buyers expected to offer rock-bottom prices for catches

BARRACHOIS - Even before the spring lobster fishery was set to open, some North Shore fishermen were wishing the season was already behind them.

They are predicting catches could follow a slight upward trend, experienced during the past two seasons, but there is a great concern buyers might offer rock-bottom prices of less than $4.50 a pound.
"It's not going to be very good by the sound of it, with the price so low," said fisherman Alan Buckler.
On Wednesday the 30-year lobster fishing veteran was at the Barrachois harbour wharf making last-minute repairs to his vessel and baiting traps, getting ready to load the boat for the early morning start of the season.
"I'm going out anyway and if they don't want to pay for them I'll keep them and have a freezer full," he said.
When lobster fishing season opened on April 19 at some ports in southwest Nova Scotia, buyers were paying those fishermen $4.50 per pound for the larger market-size lobsters. Local fishermen are speculating they might be offered less as more lobster fishing seasons open around the province this week, increasing the supply.
Wallace fisherman Alton Brown said catches in his area have been poor for at least the past five years and with the price now so low, the future of the industry is looking bleak.
"It's not enough," said Brown. "It's going to be a bad season."
Wally Allen has been dropping traps in the Northumberland Strait for the past three decades. He said fishermen believe in cycles where the lobster population has highs and lows, but in the past the price has increased to offset low landings.
"If anybody can survive this season, you can get through anything," said Allen.
"It's not a good outlook for fishing."
He said if buyers are not willing to pay enough to allow fishermen to at least break even, many could choose to market directly to customers, enabling them to earn more.
Lobster fishing season opens today in harbours from Pugwash to Havre Boucher at 6 a.m., when about 700 fishermen will begin dropping traps.
The first catch of the year will be landed Friday.

Geographic location: North Shore, Nova Scotia, Pugwash

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