Future uncertain for lobster fishermen as season begins
New Brunswick fisherman Colin Harris prepares for the start of lobster season on Nov. 12, 2012.
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 4:57PM AST
Dozens of wharves are bustling along the Bay of Fundy this week as local fishermen get ready for the opening of lobster season.
But at this point, no one is certain if this year will mark a turnaround for the once-lucrative industry, or another season of simply breaking even.
“You don’t know what the price is going to be until you haul and then come back in,” says lobster fisherman Colin Harris in Mispec, N.B.
“Then you get a better idea and sometimes you don’t even know then. The catches have a lot to do with it. Are the catches going to be up or down? You know, it’s a wait-and-see.”
The price of bait has increased and so has the price of diesel fuel, pushing the cost of a fishing boat fuel-up to roughly $1,000 for many fishermen.
However, the price they get per pound for their lobster is going in the opposite direction.
“We’ve heard $3.50. Unfortunately that’s not very good, but that’s what we have to contend with today, and we’ll just have to bite the bullet and keep moving ahead,” says Saint John fisherman Jeremy Paul.
Demand for lobster remains weak in the U.S. market, where roughly 80 per cent of Maritime lobster is exported.
In total, fishermen in southern New Brunswick will set more than 53,000 lobster traps this season.
They were supposed to set out Tuesday, but after checking the weather forecast, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decided to hold off.
“It’s what they’re calling for, sou'west with gusts to 35 along the coast, which wouldn’t be very good for us here," says Harris.
As it stands now, the fishing fleet is expected to set out Wednesday morning.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron