Stakeholders in the Atlantic lobster industry, like those two buyers in Harbour Breton in 2012, will be meeting in Halifax on March 26 and 27 to look at the four key recommendations for the fishery that were proposed in the Report of the Maritime Lobster Panel in 2013. One of the key events that may result from the meetings is a levy that would be paid by buyers and harvesters to help establish a generic marketing strategy for Canadian lobsters. Please see story for more details.
In following The Report of the the Maritime Lobster Panel in November 2013, a very important lobster summit will be held in Halifax in late March.
The report called for major changes to the Atlantic Provinces lobster industry to ensure that the multi-million dollar lobster industry is to have a future.
The Lobster Value Recovery Summit will include participation from harvesters, buyers, First Nations representatives, union personnel and officials from the Atlantic and Quebec provincial governments and from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Geoff Irvine is the Executive Director of the Lobster Council of Canada, the group that is organizing the summit.
Irvine said, “The overall purpose of the summit is to bring all stakeholders together to look at the four key recommendations from the Maritime Lobster Panel Report.”
These value recovery strategy recommendations center on the establishment of an independent Maritime Lobster Market Intelligence Institute and a comprehensive generic marketing and promotion campaign for Canadian lobster.
The panel also wants to see the development and implementation of a price-setting mechanism for determining price pre-season provided that such a mechanism is based on legislation. This would not be mandatory, but once engaged by a particular fleet or group, the price negotiated becomes the minimum legal price that can be paid to that fleet or group.
To finance these initiatives, the panel suggests implementing an industry levy with one cent paid by the fishermen for each pound landed and another cent per pound by onshore sectors.
Irvine said that the implementation of the above recommendations is very important to the future of the Atlantic lobster industry.
“This summit is meant to have a direct political impact as it will be the first time we’ve had government officials focused on this. We want to tell them very clearly what sort of action we want them to do,” Irvine said.
Irvine said that the key action in the province’s helping is the collection of levies.
He said, “We need the provinces to legislate or regulate the levy collection which will allow us to do at least two of the other three recommendations - the generic marketing campaign, to fund the market research piece and for price-setting for government help the industry collect.
“As the provinces regulate the buyers, they can collect from them and they, in turn, could collect the levy from the harvesters.”
Irvine said that the levies would be used to drive the demand for Canadian lobster in key markets. Apparently, marketing works in all other sectors in prompting and selling products.
“It works in others sectors,” Irvine said, “so we’re thinking it will work for the lobster industry. Stakeholders in this area have been talking about a levy for about four years, and we need to catch up with the Maine harvesters in this regard.”
According to Irvine, Maine passed Bill 486 in June 2013, which sets in motion legislation to collect a levy from the dealers, buyers and fishermen.
‘The Americans are already spending their levy money on marketing. They’re a little ahead in the game, and we need to catch up.”
Apparently, Canada has good lobster markets today in Northern Europe while the Americans are more dominant in the South. The Canadian Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe should be finalized by the end of 2015.
Irvine said, “The real benefit to us with CETA will be in processed products such as lobster meat, tails and fully cooked lobster which have the highest tariffs today.
“With CETA, these tariffs will be gone and we should be able to play a more aggressive role in the Southern European markets.