Now that a panel of experts has made its recommendations on how to fix the Maritime lobster industry, it’s up to the stakeholders to end years of mistrust and make it work.
Unfortunately, if recent history is any indication it’s going to be hard sell.
The three-member Maritime Lobster Panel released its report on Thursday, making 33 recommendations it believes are essential to the survival of a billion-dollar industry that reached a crisis point last spring when numerous fishermen took their boats off the waters in protest of record low prices.
In making their recommendations, the panel said they see an industry that’s struggling instead of co-operating, fishing for quantity instead of value, fighting over pennies while losing dollars and asking (or expecting) others to fix their problems.
The fact is, if the Maritime lobster industry is to survive, everyone needs to be singing from the same song sheet. Fishermen, buyers and processors need to think of the big picture instead of sniping at each other and blaming the other side for its troubles.
Many Maritimers don’t know what’s involved in the bringing their favourite crustacean to their plate. Fact is most don’t really care as long as the price is affordable and the product is accessible.
Members of the panel feel their recommendations are common sense that if followed will give the industry a fighting chance to survive.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how the dairy industry has taken advantage of marketing to maintain its market share while developing new markets for its products. There’s little doubt that a one cent per pound levy is going to be opposed by both sides of the question, but it’s something that should be widely accepted if it leads to more customers and, in turn, better prices.
As much as the panel’s suggestions are just that – a signpost toward the future – a buy-in is needed from everyone and along with buying into what’s being recommended is the notion that the lobster fishery is now a partnership of those who harvest the lobster, those who buy it, those who process and even though who buy it off the store shelves.
At the end of the day, this may the industry’s last opportunity to get it right because a repeat of last spring’s performance is something that will not be well received by those who at the end of the day pay the bills – the consumer.