By Eric McCarthy
TIGNISH — The member of Parliament for Egmont, PEI, is suggesting now might be the time for the East Coast lobster industry in Atlantic Canada and the United States to start looking at boat quotas.
But Gail Shea, who is the current minister of national revenue and former minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, insists such a discussion would have to be industry- driven.
“Fifteen years ago, that would have been a taboo subject,” Shea said of any talk of quotas for the lobster fishery.
“Taboo, and it certainly wouldn’t have crossed the lips of any politician, I can tell you that, but I’m saying the industry needs to have that conversation. It’s them.”
Shea points to the increases in lobster landings across the region as signs that conservation measures are working, but she admits the large supply of lobsters has forced downward pressure on prices.
“What the industry needs to do is they need to sit down and have a serious conversation about how and when they fish lobster. They need to have a conversation about their own viability,” Shea said in an end- of- year interview.
“I’ve talked to a lot of fishermen about, ‘ Is it time to go to talk about boat quotas at their meetings?’ Maybe it is.”
She noted the federal government supported the establishment of the Lobster Council of Canada (LCC) as a mechanism to bring the industry together.
She feels the industry needs to make more strides towards working together.
“If you look in at Atlantic Canada from the outside, we’re a small little area. The rest of the world is huge, but what happens right now is we’re marketing all individually. There’s no coherence among us, so the LCC was going to try to support the marketing somehow,” she noted.