Maritime lobster panel begins work

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The three-member independent panel appointed by Maritime fisheries ministers to examine factors affecting lobster prices will begin meeting with industry organizations in early July.

HALIFAX – The three-member independent panel appointed by Maritime fisheries ministers to examine factors affecting lobster prices will begin meeting with industry organizations in early July.

The independent panel will invite organizations representing fishermen; brokers, buyers and shippers; and processors to meet the week of July 8 in Prince Edward Island. The panel moves to Nova Scotia the next week and will meet in New Brunswick later in the month. The panel is scheduled to meet with aboriginal lobster participants the week of Aug. 5.

"This has been a challenging spring for harvesters and we look forward to the panel's recommendations for the live and processed lobster industries to move successfully forward," said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau.

The independent panel will look at the common factors affecting the East Coast fisheries, while recognizing the differences among and within each province.

It has been has been asked to examine a number of key issues and provide its perspectives and recommendations to the ministers. It has been asked to:

- determine why there was a sudden drop in price this spring and whether it was reflective of market conditions

- examine cost and revenue components of harvesters, buyers and processors in the Maritimes to determine viability thresholds and, the possible ability of any industry sector to unduly influence the price at the wharf

- provide strategic advice on marketing initiatives

- recommend options for a formal system or systems where the price paid harvesters is known before landings

- provide advice on how to stabilize, then increase, the price paid to harvesters, while respecting the owner-operator and fleet separation, and protecting a fair return to other businesses involved.

"The work the panel will be doing is a step in the right direction to addressing the challenges facing the fishing industry," said New Brunswick Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Michael Olscamp. "We are confident that, with the input from the industry stakeholders, the panel will come up with elements of a solution to this situation."

"I encourage individuals, companies and organizations involved in the lobster industry to take the time to make their views known to the panel," said P.E.I.'s Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development Ron MacKinley. "This is an important opportunity to have a say in how we create a more viable lobster fishery."

Written submissions can be made to the panel until Aug. 23 by e-mailing lobsterpanelhomard2013@gmail.com; faxing 902-425-1325; or mailing Maritime Lobster Panel, P.O. Box 34097, Scotia Square, Halifax, N.S., B3J 3S1.

The independent panel members are John Hanlon, Gilles Theriault, and Lewie Creed. Its report is expected in September.

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia New Brunswick East Coast

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