Feb. 16, 2009
DARTMOUTH, N.S. (CNB) - Fisheries ministers from the Maritime provinces met with Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Gail Shea for a round table discussion in Dartmouth, N.S., on Friday, Feb. 13, to address challenges faced by the region's lobster sector.
Minister of Fisheries Rick Doucet and Shea were joined by Neil LeClair, Prince Edward Island's minister of fisheries, aquaculture and rural development; and Ron Chisholm, minister of fisheries and aquaculture for Nova Scotia.
"There are a number of areas we have identified where we think all three provinces could work together, not only to deal with current challenges, but to help us avoid being in a similar situation in the future," said Doucet. "We must capitalize on lobster-product attributes such as high quality, safety, healthy choice, sustainability and convenience."
The meeting's goal was to have industry and government leaders examine and discuss ways all lobster industry stakeholders can achieve a sustainable and profitable sector. The round table focused on issues such as trade challenges affecting market access and growth, a lobster-specific marketing strategy, and evaluation of Marine Stewardship Council certification.
"The lobster industry has faced challenges in the past, but not often on the scale we are seeing now," said Shea. "There were worthwhile proposals raised today, and I am pleased that the industry and my provincial colleagues share my commitment to initiatives on both the demand and supply sides of the lobster market. We are working diligently to create a higher profile for Canadian lobster in wholesale, retail and food-service markets. Measures in our government's economic action plan will also help the industry weather the current storm."
The participants acknowledged the pressures that low wharf prices put on the industry in the fall. The global economic situation had a dramatic effect on all luxury purchases, including lobster.
"I believe we made it clear today that there is a need for more and better information related to the supply and inventory of lobster products," said LeClair. "We all know that lobsters are landed in a relatively short period of time during the respective seasons around the region, yet we have little solid information about how much is sold, in what form, and what remains in inventory."
All parties agreed that there are no quick fixes or easy solutions, and committed to continue to work closely together.
"A number of viable solutions to building a strong lobster industry in the future, such as co-operation, strong inventory systems, sound marketing, and key supportive programs, have been brought to the table," said Chisholm. "I am convinced that now is the time for industry to demonstrate solid collaboration. To succeed, we must work together."
MEDIA CONTACT: Paul Harpelle, communications, Department of Fisheries, 506-470-0492, or firstname.lastname@example.org.