The union representing lobster fishermen in New Brunswick, Canada, said on Saturday that it has reached an agreement with the provincial government and fish processing plants after fishermen blockaded several Canadian plants to demand that they do not accept cheaper lobsters which are imported from Maine on the US’ east coast.
Christian Brun of the The Maritime Fishermen’s Union said a tentative deal was reached on Friday night and approved by most of the fishermen on early Saturday morning.
Tensions over lobster prices bubbled over last week, when fishermen in the province held demonstrations in Cap-Pele and Shediac and trucks were blocked from delivering Maine lobsters to processing plants. Canadian lobstermen say the low price of Maine lobsters is driving down prices in Canada and stealing their livelihood. By Wednesday, every lobster processing plant in New Brunswick had shut down operations.
Maine each year ships millions of kilograms of lobsters to Canada, where they are turned into a variety of products that are sold on retail markets, mostly in the US. Canada has more than two dozen processing plants, while Maine has only three of any size.
Processors in New Brunswick agreed more than a week ago to pay a minimum of C$2.50 (US$2.52) per pound (0.45kg) for processed lobster and C$3 per pound for live market lobsters, but the union said that it was not enough.
Calls for financial compensation were rejected by the New Brunswick government and the protests continued for a week before a provincial judge issued a 10-day injunction on Thursday preventing fishermen from blockading the plants.
The dispute tested relations between New Brunswick and the state of Maine, where Republican Senator Olympia Snowe called on US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise the matter with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Brun said that the deal reached on Saturday calls for processors to pay an additional C$0.25 per lobster, to be matched by the union.
That will bring the price up to C$3 per pound for processed lobster and C$3.50 per pound for live market lobsters.