On eve of lobster season, fishermen worry about low prices and high costs
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- Glace Bay harbour was a busy spot on Thursday, with lobster fishermen loading traps in preparation for setting day on Friday.
It's a time that is usually much anticipated among fishermen, but not this year.
"I would say we're going to lose 40 to 50 percent from last year to this year," said Herb Nash.
Nash has been a fisherman for more than 30 years and says he hasn't seen prices this low since the seventies.
"I don't think our fishery is going to last two months anyway," he said. "I think if we get two or three weeks out of it. They're not going to be able to sell the lobster or prices are going to be that low, we're not going to be able to afford it. We're paying $1.25 pound for bait and we're getting $5 dollars for lobster."
Thursday, the federal government announced more measures to support people who work in the fishing sector.
"We are investing almost $470 million to support fish harvesters," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "First of all, we are creating the fish harvesters benefit. If you're expecting a 25 per cent drop in income this season, you'll get support to cover 75 per cent of your losses, up to about $10,000."
Talk among fishermen at the wharf in Glace Bay is that the federal assistance just doesn't cut it. Fishermen can apply for up to $10,000, but fishermen say that money doesn't go far enough.
"When you're dealing with lobster fishing, you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars a year between expenses and everything else," Nash said. "Ten thousand dollars is not going to go very far."
Nash says there are fewer crew this year because there's no money to pay them and physical-distancing guidelines.
As the boats head for the open water Friday, he's just hoping this season will be enough to make a living.