Maritime lobster fishermen agree to end strike
The remaining holdouts in a Maritime-wide dispute over lobster pricing have agreed to end their strike and will begin setting traps as early as Friday.
The lobster season in northern Cape Breton was supposed to start last Saturday, but more than 500 fishermen stayed ashore in a unified bid to force buyers to pay at least $5 a pound.
“Nobody is satisfied with the price,” says fisherman Carl Pottie. “What are you going to do if they won’t pay anymore? You can’ get blood from a stone.”
The fishermen voted, albeit reluctantly, to accept a price of $4.25 per pound, which is less than what they were paid last season. They say the new price will barely cover expenses.
“There are bills that have to be paid and the guys want to go fishing, so they are going to go fishing I guess,” says fisherman James Peck.
Despite mixed feelings over the accepted price, fishermen across the Maritimes believe their strike has made a difference. A region-wide panel will examine whether lobster fishermen are victims of price fixing, or other industry collusion.
“All fishermen are still united. We are still strong and getting stronger, and I think that’s the message we want to send,” says fishermen’s negotiator Billy Erickson.
“They are willing to work together. I think that is something they haven’t seen in years in the fishing industry,” says Progressive Conservative MLA Eddie Orrell. “So these guys have achieved a great deal just from what they’ve done in the past couple of days.”
While the fishermen have reached an agreement on the contentious issue of pricing, representatives of the district’s 18 ports could not decide when to start fishing. Some plan to set traps on Friday, while others will wait until Monday.
There is no indication the lobster season will be extended to compensate for the time lost due to the pricing dispute.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Randy MacDonald