Lobster glut drives down Maritimes prices
A glut of lobsters has driven down the price of the prized crustacean in the Maritimes, leaving fishermen scrambling for ways to prop up their earnings.
The lobster industry — worth about CAD 580 million in the region — has been battered in recent years, with prices dropping by a third within the last three years.
Prices are hovering around CAD 3 per pound, down from CAD 4.50 per pound in 2009, according to the Lobster Council of Canada.
“Everybody is talking about going back to the drawing board in January when things start to slow down,” said Marc Surette, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.
Surette said record landings combined with the economic downturn in Europe and the United States have made the lobster season, which opened in southwestern Nova Scotia late last month, particularly difficult.
Packing plants have been dealing with catches that are up 25 to 30 per cent from last year, he added.
“In an industry that’s been traditionally status quo year after year after year, all of a sudden we’re seeing a totally different way of having to do business,” Surette said from Yarmouth, N.S.
“We’re just trying to get used to it.”
But fishermen have been reluctant to make changes that would limit their catch. Before this season began, the management board of a southwest Nova Scotia fishing zone proposed a trap reduction from 375 to 300, as well as delaying the season a week. Fishermen rejected the idea.