Lobster industry might want to consider boat quotas – MP Shea

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TIGNISH – The Member of Parliament for Egmont is suggesting now might be the time for the East Coast lobster industry in Atlantic Canada and the United States to start looking at boat quotas.

But Gail Shea, who is the current Minister of National Revenue and former minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, insists such a discussion would have to be industry-driven.

“Fifteen years ago, that would have been a taboo subject,” Shea said of any talk of quotas for the lobster fishery. “Taboo, and it certainly wouldn’t have crossed the lips of any politician, I can tell you that, but I’m saying the industry needs to have that conversation. It’s them.”

Shea points to the increases in lobster landings across the region as signs that conservation measures are working, but she admits the large supply of lobsters has forced downward pressure on prices.

“ What the industry needs to do is they need to sit down and have a serious conversation about how and when they fish lobster. They need to have a conversation about their own viability,” Shea said in an end-of-year interview. “ I’ve talked to a lot of fishermen about, ‘Is it time to go to talk about boat quotas at their meetings?’ Maybe it is.”

She noted the federal government supported the establishment of the Lobster Council of Canada as a mechanism to bring the industry together. She feels the industry needs to make more strides towards working together.

“If  you look in at Atlantic Canada from the outside, we’re a small little area. The rest of the world is huge, but what happens right now is we’re marketing all individually. There’s no coherence among us, so the LCC was going to try to support the marketing somehow,” she noted.

The MP singled out a fish processor in her riding for praise, noting that Royal Star Foods has been successful in finding markets in Canada, but argued that the industry as a whole has to spread out its marketing.

There are different ways of doing things, the MP said.

“They just need to sit down. I think, and explore everything. Just put everything on the table. Nothing’s written in stone, but just talk about everything.

“This is not going to change overnight,” Shea stressed. “You can’t sit down and have this conversation and expect to make changes May the first, 2013. That won’t happen, but I think they need to look at what their industry’s going to look like 10 years down the road and work backwards from there. What do they want it to look like?”


Organizations: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Lobster Council of Canada, Royal Star Foods

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, East Coast, United States

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Recent comments

  • Judith Maxwell
    January 03, 2013 - 09:38

    I am a Groundfish Representative in SouWest Nova Scotia and this news release is disheartening to say the least , not only to the Independant Lobster Industry but to Community living as it is now. We use an "informal" quota system in the groundfish fishery, and that inturn is controlled by TAC's(Total Allowable Catch) which is determined by Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans. Our quota stocks are at an all time low, our effort on the ocean for fishing is at an all time low, yet fish prices at dockside are NOT at an all time high. That would be a prime example to not expect that a lobster quota would equal high prices. And while we stumble along to see if we can obtain a better lobster price by removing 50% of the industry, and should the results be "no we cannot" , during this trial period we have lost another 50% of our population due to job loss. I think Ms. Shea stated the Industry itself has to discuss these solutions, then I suggest to all the lobstermen out there, now is the time to find your voice, not on the wharf, not on the boat, but at the table, if you do not then this "quota" is a done deal. Unfortunately there are Governmend supported organizations out there who are speaking "for" the lobstermen without ever speaking "to" a lobstermen.

  • What's your point?
    January 02, 2013 - 11:36

    People sell quotas all the time. They own the license and if they want to sell it or sell the quota it is theirs to do it with. The buyers put a quota on the boats last fall anyway so maybe if they put a quota on everyone all the time the price may improve for everyone. But I will not be convinced until I see some figures.....fisherman need a better price and maybe this is the only way to get it. One lobster boat in Nova Scotia almost triples the landings of a fall boat in PEI in one month compared to their whole season and there is triple the fisherman. Something has to change.

  • Christopher Hudson
    January 02, 2013 - 10:11

    Currently the scallop fishing in sou west nova is selling their quotas at $2 a lb with some paying $2.50 Sold by guys sitting on their ass at home and in florida on vacation--not having to lift a finger Who do you think pays these absurd prices ?? It,s the crews---utter bs. So why should we be even considering talking about such things. What makes people think it will be any different in the lobster industry. It,s a way t hat only helps companies prosper... this is no secret. regards Chris Hudson BAY OF FUNDY INSHORE FISHERMENS ASSOCIATION ---PRESIDENT PS... IF quotas became a part of the lobster industry.. i would have one of the biggest quotas. Guess what i would prolly do as i,m approaching retirement in a few years . I,d sell my quota year to year and go to Florida to join the rest of the groundfish / scallop fleet quota owners. Deduct the price of quota from the boat price of lobsters----- you think crews aren,t making $ now--wait til this plays out. Big emphasis on crews...... owners can sell and make $... actually ..truth be known...I would prolly clear more money sitting in Florida than busting my butt fishing. Should create a huge jump in the local economies as crews will have to sell there houses,vehicles..etc very cheep. PERHAPS I SHOULD THANK MY WONDERFUL GOVERNMENT FOR OFFERING ME SUCH A WONDERFUL RETIREMENT TO ME. SO GREAT TO LIVE IN CANADA !! HOPE YOU CAN DETECT THE SARCASM HERE----BUT THIS IS THE TRUTH.

  • this goverment is a joke
    January 01, 2013 - 17:18

    YES gail thats it keep giving harper everything he wants without a fight.Pretty soon the maritimes will be gone. First nation protests is only the beginging of your goverments problems. The cons will fight for years before they ever get a chance to kill this country again.

  • don
    January 01, 2013 - 13:41

    WHY WOULDN'T SHE. yes and i'm sure you get a pay cheque from her. but the story reads she represents PEI. what a joke.

  • Why Wouldn't She
    December 31, 2012 - 11:19

    @ Don , why wouldn't she support the western fishers ? they are the ones that elected her to do just that . That is her JOB & because she does it well , you have no right to put her down . By the way , I'm from the east & only wish that we had been as smart & elected the correct people , not the has been because we can't see our noses in front of us & believe in the status quo . I personally think she is doing a fine job .

  • Maybe there is hope after all
    December 29, 2012 - 11:47

    Finally, a politician who wants to address the issue, doing the same thing over and over will not change the outcome. Lobster @ Sobeys is $4.99 a pound, this is not good. There has to change in how the industry is managed and only the fishers can do that, they cannot just blame others. How many businesses spent little or nothing in marketing, lobster fishers couldn't agree on even 5 cents a pound to go to the marketing council. If farmers, tourist operators and other small businesses took the same approach what do you expect would be the outcome? Government is there to regulate and provide support but fishers are business owners, they have to manage their operations that way, fishing is more than just making top EI, fleets are worth 100's of thousands, a whole way of life depends on the fishers themselves leading the industry to a more prosperous future, will it be difficult, yes, is it worth it, yes as well.

  • don
    December 29, 2012 - 11:45

    yes shea tie up all the boats east of wellington then your people will have all the island to fish. as you seem to hard o reach i have tried and so has others for over a year leave messages but you never return any calls so it is either you or your staff is not doing there ob. buti see you have no trouble helping western PEI.