Price pressures and national pride rankles lobstermen

Oct. 19, 2013 at 2:05 PM
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OTTAWA, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Maine Lobstermen's Association said it would split the difference on product labels to keep the peace with Canadian colleagues.

There has been some bad blood between Canadian and Maine lobstermen of late, The New York Times reported Saturday, some of it stemming from a glut of lobsters that has flooded the market and lowered prices this summer from an average of $4 per pound to $1.20.

As the cost of a lobster dinner has not diminished, lobstermen in Maine are wondering where the expanded margin is going.

As each country relies on the other for lobsters to fill different market needs, Maine Gov. Gov. Paul LePage's goal of making his state's lobster industry independent in three years has rankled some, the Times said.

On the labeling side, the Maine Lobstermen's Association said they would accept standards that lobster processed in Canada as "Harvest in Maine, Processed in Canada."

But that would solve only one of several disagreements. "Something is seriously wrong, somebody's getting a whole ton of money," said Charles McGeoghegan, a Prince Edward Island lobsterman, referring to the wholesale price going down while the retail price at the grocery store has held near $15 per pound.

"We know that the fishermen aren't getting it," McGeoghegan said.

Still, the industry relies on a smooth relationship between Maine and Canada as 50 to 70 percent of Maine's lobsters end up in Canadian processing plants and three-quarters of Canada's catch ends up in tanks in the United States

"We've got a lot of eggs in the American basket. We don't have any intention of getting into a fight with the Americans," said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

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