Wharf price of P.E.I. lobster falls by $2 a pound

·3 min read
'A lot of Island buyers were paying $6.50 and $7.50 with no explanation to go with it other than they're saying post-Mother's Day demand is weak,' says Charlie McGeoghegan. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
'A lot of Island buyers were paying $6.50 and $7.50 with no explanation to go with it other than they're saying post-Mother's Day demand is weak,' says Charlie McGeoghegan. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

The price of lobster on the Island has dropped by about two dollars a pound compared to when the season began.

Earlier this month, fishers were selling their catches for around $8 for canners and $8.50 for markets — the highest prices in about 15 years. Charlie McGeoghegan, chair of the Lobster Marketing Board of P.E.I., said the price went as high as $8.50 a pound for canners and $9.00 for markets.

Now those prices have dropped.

"We were glad to see that first week, the price where it was. To our disappointment though, the Monday after Mother's Day, they dropped it in a lot of cases [by] two dollars a pound," he told Angela Walker on Mainstreet.

"My phone's been quite busy this last week and fishermen are wild with what buyers have done this last week. With the supply that's coming in, there's absolutely no rational reason for what they did."

McGeoghegan said by the board's calculations, expenses associated with fishing lobster has risen by about 300 per cent in the last 15 years, while the price of the catches sold at the wharf has not followed suit.

"We were looking at prices that were more than 15 years old up until this year," he said.

"A lot of Island buyers were paying $6.50 and $7.50 with no explanation to go with it other than they're saying post-Mother's Day demand is weak, which is absolutely 100 per cent not the case.

"They presell almost all their lobster through the winter, so their orders are already in and accounted for before we even set the gear."

Tough for processors too, association says

Jerry Gavin, the executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association, said their industry is also struggling with the increased cost of production and can't afford to pay the prices the season started off with.

"Processors really could not make any money. The operations would not be sustainable at that high of a price," he said.

"We want their operations. We want to see them sustainable and viable and, at the same time, it's also true for our processors — we need to be sustainable as well. At the end of the day, we want to see both parties do well. And we see this price as getting a good balance for that."

In neighbouring licensed fishing areas, McGeoghegan said the price has stayed high.

A forklift operator on the wharf at North Lake, P.E.I., prepares to lift crates of fresh live lobster onto a refrigerated truck.
A forklift operator on the wharf at North Lake, P.E.I., prepares to lift crates of fresh live lobster onto a refrigerated truck.(Sara Fraser/CBC)

"I can't really speak for the processors over there," Gavin said.

"The catches are down, but they're still fairly high. It was a huge challenge for processors to be able to handle the amount of volume of lobsters coming in at the start of the season."

As for how the prices will weather the rest of the season, Gavin said it's hard to predict.

"There's about 50 buyers on the wharf across the Island, and basically it's a competitive process. They set the price. If the price goes down, other buyers match that price," he said.

"Processors do want to see fishers make a good livelihood and processors have to be sustainable, and we need that balance to ensure that everybody does well and we have a sustainable seafood sector for the future."

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