Newfoundland Lobster Harvesters End Occupation-Win Aid Package
June 15, 2009, 10:33 AM EST
Newfoundland lobster harvesters have concluded their occupation of federal cabinet minister Peter McKay's regional office. The harvesters demanded that the federal government take a major role in addressing the devastating 2009 lobster season. In part as a result of the protest and other actions by harvesters, the federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced $65 million in aid will be given to the lobster fishermen in Quebec and the four Atlantic provinces over the next five years.
CAW/FFAW President McCurdy and other representatives outlined continuing concerns. McCurdy told the St. John's Telegram that the amount of money provided did not address the seriousness of the situation and that the government must do more to help. "If you look at dividing that announcement by five provinces and by five years, it just doesn't come close."
Throughout Atlantic Canada this year, lobster prices have been the lowest in decades (below $3 per pound). The travesty left harvesters with uncertainty and doubt about whether they would be able to survive the season.
Leonard LeBlanc a lobster fisherman in Cheticamp, N.S. told the Canadian Press that, "What we were requesting was in the range of $150 million to $200 million and she's offering $65 million. We need a hell of a lot more money than that."
Occupying the federal minister's office is only the latest installment of the fight back from harvesters. Earlier this season, harvesters voiced their concerns by tying up their boats for four days.
The CAW/FFAW represents 2,500 lobster harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.