Thursday, June 19, 2008

No Fishing Sunday...forget feeding the family

It's unfortunate our lobster prices are where they are but the conclusion of this report does not surprise me. The economy is not very strong in our major U.S. market and people just don't have the disposable income to be out dinning on expense meals. I recently took a road trip from California to Florida and then up the eastern seaboard to PEI and I had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the housing troubles that are effecting the U.S. economy. These housing woos are filtering down to the service industries and everyone is starting to feel the effects and it doesn't appear as if it’s going to end soon. I can't imagine that our lobster industry is going to get any stronger soon. Probably the best way for the industry to work through this is for the fishers, buyers and processors to work closer together and not be so suspicious of each other. On Sunday night I went for a walk down to the harbour from our cottage and was surprised to see a fisherman moving around some lobster on his boat so I asked him if he had just got in from fishing. He told me that he and a few others hadn't gone out for a few days, as it had been quite windy, and although some went out on Saturday, they still felt it was too risky so they went out on Sunday. They had called a buyer who agreed to meet them at the wharf later on Sunday but by the time they got in another fisherman showed up and was upset that this group was fishing on Sunday. He demanded the buyer refuse to buy their catch or he and his gang wouldn't sell to that buyer again. The whole thing ended up with the local buyer not knowing what to do so he called his boss who decided he didn't want to ruffle any feathers so he told the buyer to leave and the fisherman who went out to make their living on Sunday got stuck with no buyer. Something has got to give in this industry and people have to start working together particularly with the way the prices are going.
No collusion on lobster prices, study finds
Thursday, June 19, 2008
CBC News
Lobster prices are at a six-year low. (CBC) A consultant hired by the P.E.I. government has found no evidence of collusion among buyers keeping down lobster prices, says his report released Thursday. John Sackton of in Lexington, Mass., found four main causes for low prices being offered to fishermen at P.E.I. wharves, the primary one being the reduced value of the American dollar. "Eighty per cent of all the lobsters are sold into the U.S. market. When the lobsters get too expensive, the restaurant buyers and the retail customers and the tourists cut back and they stop buying," Sackton told CBC News. According to the report, other conditions leading to low prices were: An oversupplied European market. High landings flooding lobster processors. A slow U.S. economy hurting lines of credit. Problems with credit, Sackton wrote, were forcing processors to sell off product immediately in order to raise cash, rather than being able to wait for prices to improve. The report was paid for by the P.E.I. government at the request of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, which was concerned buyers might be working together to keep prices low. Prices at the wharf for small lobsters, known as canners, are at their lowest in six years. The price collapse comes at a time when prices for fuel and bait are on the rise.

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