Most people think lobster is too expensive. Not the roughly 900 fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia whose job it is to haul the crustaceans from the deep. Hundreds of fishermen have been floating their boats idly in and around Yarmouth, Shelburne, and Digby for more than a week, with no plan to resume fishing unless lobster buyers agree to meet their price of $5.50 per pound. The striking fishermen say they receive, on average, between $3.25 and $5 dollars per pound of fish and argue that’s a wage they cannot afford to live on. The 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen’s Association is leading the protest over what it considers an “unfair” decade-long decline in the price lobster buyers will pay. “We want lobster dealers to make money,” says James Mood, president of the organization, “but we want them to share that wealth with fishermen.”
Mood says that anything under $5.50 per pound is simply not livable, but the buyers won’t budge. “We’ve had one meeting with them,” he says. “It was not fruitful. They say they don’t have a [fixed] price.”
Apparently though, neither do some fishermen who have continued to set traps, raising the ire of the lobster union.There have been reports of violence on some wharfs and the RCMP have been forced to intervene. “There are some people that didn’t honour the strike,” says Mood. “There have been some threats made, some bullying, some badgering, some arguments nose to nose. But we support and believe in democracy. You have the freedom to go fishing or not.”
Lobster fishing season officially ends in late May, but the consensus among striking fishermen is that a month’s worth of fishing losses is worth the chance at a pay increase in the fall when the season resumes.