Lobster marketing promoted at WGFA annual

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- The tie-up of lobster boats last May cost fishermen money, the president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association acknowledged Tuesday, but Mike McGeoghegan said that action helped produce a provincial and a Maritime report on the lobster industry. 

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association, McGeoghegan expressed hope the reports will spawn positive results for the industry.

“Not hopefully,” he added. “We are going to get something done.”

He acknowledged he is in favour of the cent-a-pound marketing levy that fishermen will be asked to vote on. He noted a levy has been beneficial for the fur industry and other commodities. “Anytime you look at any marketing or generic marketing, it pays, and it pays big,” he told the 40 fishermen in attendance.

“I think it’s a good idea. Marketing is the way to go. If you fish, you’ve got to get your money back.”

But McGeoghegan admitted there are still details to work out, like who will do the marketing and to whom will they be accountable.

Fishermen at the meeting resisted an immediate vote on a levy, though, suggesting it has to be Maritime based.

David Lewis from the Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 24 Lobster Advisory Committee, said he shares that view and suggested the real question is as simple as: ‘Do you support marketing your product?’

P.E.I. Deputy Minister of Fisheries, Richard Gallant, filled fishermen in on generic marketing, one of the four recommendations grouped in the Maritime Lobster Panel’s Value Recovery Strategy. Pointing out such campaigns promote a product rather than a brand, he provided marketing clips from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Mussel Industry Council and the Egg Farmers of Canada to show how they promote interest in their products.

On quality, McGeoghegan said fishermen will do whatever the buyers and processors want, as long as they get paid for their efforts.

Fishermen can’t keep fishing for what they’ve been getting, McGeoghegan insisted. He advocated for bringing everybody to the table to work out an acceptable price.

“That’s the thing right now, we’re working in a vacuum: everybody is speaking but nobody is actually getting anything done,” he reflected.

WGFA president Craig Avery, who characterized last year’s tie-up as a show of solidarity, pointed to reasons for optimism. He said prices are up in Sou’west Nova Scotia, catches have dropped off in Maine, and new markets are being developed.

PEIFA executive director Ian MacPherson reported the PEIFA formed a steering committee and from the two lobster reports released this fall, identified a dozen key areas where the P.E.I. lobster fishery can work towards greater profitability.

They are already working on a North Atlantic harvester workshop to be held next month in Charlottetown, and they are looking to enhance the in-province marketing initiatives they started this year. 

Organizations: Lobster Advisory Committee, Mussel Industry Council

Geographic location: Western Gulf Fishermen, Lobster Fishing Area, Canada Nova Scotia Maine Charlottetown

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