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Outraged with the price NL Lobster Fisherman will receive this season

There was a sense of positivity of some recovery in the fishery of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in 2011 as the announcement of crab prices were to start at $2.35 with no dispute among parties, when last season the processors were disputing the $1.35 per pound price set by the pricing panel.  A Federal memo of a cut of 40 percent in the inshore shrimp fishery is unacceptable. Provincial Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman has stated the cuts to the quota should be much less (~10-15%). Some good news in this story is that the prices are up significantly for shrimp and fishers are out on the water working hard to earn a living.

The Price Setting Panel announced the lobster price would be $4.26 per pound for the week of April 17 and $4.23 per pound for the week of April 23,2011. This created a dispute among processors, claiming they could not afford to purchase at this rate.

The buyers in this situation have the upper hand, as the lobster season is quite short. The buyers continued to stall purchasing. The Fisheries Union placed pressure on Government to allow outside buyers. Fishermen should get the highest possible price for the commodity of lobster. We certainly do not have a free market as it stands today and our lobster fishers continue to pay the price. Minister Jackman noted that opening up the province to free market could not happen overnight, that plant workers may be impacted and what that could mean for other fish species – if such a precendent is set. I am unsure how much employment is created in this province due to processing of lobster, but would like to find out. It appears primarily there is the middleman or lobster buyer that gets a cut to sell from the wharf or ship to market.

It is in the interest of the buyers to ensure they reap maximum profits for themselves and their shareholders. It has been the practise of for-profit enterprises since the beginning of time. However, they have an unfair advantage over small fishing enterprises.

The Price Setting Panel set a fair price at $4.26. However, without Government intervening to allow outside buyers the bargaining power of the fishermen and their Union was weak. The fishermen went to the waters on opening day without having any buyer. This shows their dedication to their profession. However, lobster can only last so long crated on the water and fisherman can only absorb operating costs and no income for only so long. I can only imagine that this would be the case for many people, that they could only live and provide for their families for a short-term without getting further in debt. The parties agreed upon a price of $3.65 per pound with a review each week that could see increases based on market conditions.

I am outraged that fishermen are only receiving $3.65 per pound for this gourmet product. Economic conditions are much more encouraging than in 2008 when the price bottomed at $3.00-$3.25 per pound. Operating costs are increasing and fishers are unable to earn a living wage when they are being royally ripped off for their product by a whopping $0.60 per pound from the start. CBC.ca reported that 6 million pounds of lobster is caught in our beautiful province, which means $3.6 million dollars (6 million pounds *$0.60/pound)  is being removed from the fishers, which would be of great benefit to the families of fishers and help sustain rural economies.

On December 1, 2010 CBC reported the following for Nova Scotia Lobster Fishery -

Naugle said Wednesday he was selling the first lobsters of the season at a price of $5.99 per pound, for lobsters between one and 1.4 pounds. Lobsters between 1.45 and 3.25 pounds were being sold for $6.49 per pound. (Full story here)

Prices paid to the lobster harvester in Newfoundland & Labrador are being kept artificially too low, in my opinion. The FFAW has a chart listing price for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI from January-April, which show a price between $4-5.00 per pound (Full Details Click Here).

Action must be taken to ensure an environment is created to give the fishermen more bargaining power to obtain the fair price for their product. This may require greater attention from the Fisheries Union to focus on the small boat fisher, the Provincial Government to review its own Fisheries Act, dialogue with the Federal Department of Fisheries and a change in business operations or concessions for lobster buyers in the province. Change is needed in how we operate our Provincial fishery.

Why is our system set up that in the end the buyer sets the price, despite parties agreeing to a Price Setting Panel? The fishermen have the product and they should determine the price - if the buyers are unwilling then they should be able to look elsewhere. This is simple business. I would be happy to buy lobster from the fishers for $4.26 or more per pound.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Fishery woes continue to escalate on the Great Northern Peninsula

The fishery continues to make headlines, unfortunately not the type I have an appetite for reading.

VOCM reported the following protest at Black Duck Cove, NL http://www.vocm.com/newsarticle.asp?mn=2&id=14203&latest=1

The Black Duck Cove Fish Plant has a ready, willing and able workforce. There is raw material on the Great Northern Peninsula being caught by local fishers. However, this material is being trucked away, along with it all the economic value it should add to the local economy. Sadly, it appears we are losing control of our natural resources, something that Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has in abundance.

If we do not act strongly on this matter we will continue to say good-bye to our jobs, not only of the plant workers but many others will be indirectly and adversely affected. There is a significant domino effect as small businesses and communities will be rationalized.

Continue your voice, co-operate and show unity my friends. Let this and other issues be heard by the Government. Get your MHA speaking up on this matter, representing his constituents and do meet with Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman.

It is time for a better solution than what we have currently. I believe if we work together as a collective group, we can achieve as we have in the past.

Live Rural NL writing from Las Vegas -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Change needed in how we run the fishery in Canada…

 

It is upsetting to read headlines on the CBC – Lobster prices two dear: processors. The pricing panel set the starting price at $4.26 per pound, which processors say they will not buy and will lose money. It was only last season this same group of processors could not afford to buy crab at $1.35 per pound set by the pricing panel. Fogo Island Co-op was the only company willing, and they got dispelled from the association. Yet in Nova Scotia crab could be purchased at $1.85 per pound.

Is it our closed marketplace? The few processors have a monopoly? Should we look at changing the legislation? Having a free market and allowing outside buyers?

Lobster is a delicacy and no harvester can continue to make a living at the low price of $3.00 or $3.25 per pound, especially with escalating operating costs. My father was a small boat fisher, catching lobster. The price 15 years ago was higher than what it has been in recent seasons.

I remember passing the seafood section in London, England in 2007. The price of lobster fo 16.00 GBP or about $34.00 CDN. I purchased a lobster tail on a beach stand for $9.00 CDN. If you go fine dining lobster ranks up there with the fine cuts of beef.

Why have we devalued the lobster? Are we failing to market our quality products and getting into more value-added? And why are we unable to pay the harvester a fair price? Something has to be done to ensure more certainly and better management of the fishery. Hon. Clyde Jackman, Fisheries Minister for the Province needs to work with newly elected Federal counterparts and all stakeholders.

The fishery continues to be the backbone of the rural economy. We must implement corrective measures to ensure that our rural communities can continue to remain sustainable. The amount of dollars may be small to many of these larger producers but every cut to fish species and reduction of price has resonating impacts to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador economies.

Together we can make great change for brighter tomorrows.

Live Rural NL from Las Vegas -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Save Our Rural Economies: Traditional Social Values vs. Generation Me

This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.

While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society.  The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s.

Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps;  a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.

Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.

There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain  rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.

After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!

As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland,  I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland  & Labrador.

Let’s Save Our Rural Economy -

CCM

Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.

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