Steve Sharratt - TC Media
A Mother’s Day emergency meeting to end the lobster strike has failed.
After a two-hour discourse in a downtown Charlottetown motel Sunday, processors, fishermen and government walked away in greater distance than before.
“We need a complete investigation into this situation,’’ said fisherman and MLA Charlie McGeoghegan.
The buyers will not budge on a better price, citing their positions and the fishermen are shaken and distraught over the outcome.
"It’s the worst meeting in my life,’’ he said. “They wouldn’t even consider pushing up the price for us.”
Fishermen were armed with shore prices from Newfoundland to Maine and it clearly showed P.E.I. was receiving the least amount of payment for landed lobster. The refusal to fish is now five-days-old after low prices drove the Island fleet to tie up the boats.
Fishermen say it’s a deliberate ploy by processors and the federal government to defeat the owner/operator style of fishing (captain’s run their own boat) and replace it with a corporate takeover of the fleet. Already, major fish companies have purchased boats and continue to make headway into the industry.
"It was a waste of two hours,’’ said McGeoghegan. “There are buyers paying $5 in Nova Scotia for a pound and our buyers won’t move from $2.75.”
It could spell the end of the 2013 P.E.I. lobster season since many fishermen say they are prepared to haul traps if the price doesn’t increase.
The impact on the province, and the tourism industry, would be significant since profiling quality seafood is a top priority for the government and business.
“We offered all kinds of ideas to make changes but they wouldn’t listen.”
Processors said before going into the meeting that they had no wiggle room, but offer little reasoning to the stance.
“We even talked about reducing traps and fishing less, but it was rejected.”
The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association expects to poll members and fishermen tomorrow on whether to haul traps ashore and return to fishing.
“Personally I don’t think it’s worth going back, but everyone is in a different boat.”
Fishermen say they won’t give up and even Newfoundland and Maine boats are considering joining the biggest shutdown in the fishery.