O’LEARY — The president of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association was not about to issue a statement on behalf of his group Wednesday on National Revenue Minister Gail Shea’s suggestion that the lobster industry should consider boat quotas as a means of controlling over supply.
“No comment,” Lee Knox answered when pressed by members.
Knox estimated about half of the fishermen he’s spoken to since Shea made the suggestion are for boat quotas and about half are opposed to the concept.
“It’s something we’ve got to keep our eyes open on and listen to what’s going on,” he acknowledged, but as far as speaking on behalf of the association, said “I’ve got to get all of (LFA) 25 here to tell me what they think of quota before I go out and make a statement.”
Only about 50 fishermen were attendance for the association’s annual meeting Wednesday in O’Leary. They offered differing opinions on quota.
P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association president Mike McGeoghegan, however, saw Shea’s suggestion as an opening.
“It was a bold move for Gail to put that out there in the public because quota is a bad word in the fishing industry. Nobody wants to go there,” he acknowledged.
But, added McGeoghegan, “The great thing about the conversation was it opened the door for me to speak on it.”
“We have a supply problem — too much fish coming in — and we can’t get rid of it, and the price is going down. Processors and packers and buyers are loving it but it’s no good for us,” said McGeoghegan, who repeated his rallying cry that fishermen have to regain control of their industry.
“We can’t be scared of the word quota, or supply management or marketing boards, or whatever handle you want to put on this, we have to drive this engine. We have to be involved and fishermen have to be in control.”
“Let’s forget about quota,” suggested PEIFA executive director Ian MacPherson. “Let’s just say that’s a swear word we can’t say and just talk about supply management: how can we have less lobster coming in to improve the price and what are some ideas?”