May 27, 2024

Lobster crawls to lower prices

YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia lobster is retailing for as little as $3.87 a pound in some Massachusetts fish markets, according to a Boston wholesaler.

Supermarkets will sell for slightly higher than in fish marts on Cape Cod or in Boston, said Neil Zarella of the Boston Lobster Co.

He said he sympathized with Nova Scotia fishermen who staged a 48-hour work stoppage this week in a bid to reduce supply of their product. Nova Scotia fishermen are making about $3.19 a pound for their lobster. They returned to their boats Wednesday to resume fishing.

“Who can blame them? I wouldn’t want to fish for that price either, but the fact of the matter is it may come down to where they can’t fish at all if they can’t sell them,” Zarella said. “There’s times this [past] fall, where in Maine, the boats stayed tied up because there was no market for [their lobster].”

He said he already had seen lobster from southwestern Nova Scotia, where the fishery opened Nov. 24.

“The quality … has been pretty good,” he said Wednesday from Boston. He also buys lobster from Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick and from the upper Bay of Fundy.

“We’re pushing as hard as we can to sell lobsters but there isn’t a big market at the moment. We’re just trying to balance sales to inventory.”

Prices have dipped to the lowest prices in years in Maine, the United States’ No. 1 lobster producer, prompting industry supporters to urge consumers to eat lobster instead of turkey this past Thanksgiving.

The market generally opens up during the last two weeks of December.

“A lot of that will go overseas, hopefully,” said Zarella, whose company is located just minutes away from Logan International Airport.

Meanwhile, residents of southwestern Nova Scotia are being urged to attend a peaceful rally this weekend in support of lobstermen.

Earlier this week, a group of fishermen voted in favor of returning to the lobster grounds, putting an end to a two-day protest against low prices for their catch. Regardless, some fishermen say they’ll have to tie up their vessels for the winter, and younger crew members are likely to head out West in search of work.

Carol Spinney, whose husband is a longtime lobster fisherman, is organizing Saturday’s rally at the public wharf in Yarmouth. Spinney said she wants to show support for the fishermen and underscore the effect low lobster prices are having on communities in the province.

The fishermen are calling on provincial politicians to join their representatives in a delegation that would go to Ottawa to ask for financial assistance.

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