PE: Island fishers brace for another challenging year

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The Guardian

PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan says rising operating costs continue to erode any price gains obtained over 2011.

Guardian file photo

[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — The Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association says 2012 will likely be another challenging year for the fishing sector on the Island.

Increasing prices paid to harvesters for lobster and other species continues to be a top priority, says PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan.

“Rising operating costs continue to erode any price gains obtained over the past year,” he said.

McGeoghegan said the downsizing of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that are responsible for scientific research, conservation and protection will put additional pressure on resources. In addition, there is a scheduled review of the halibut allocation formula that has been used in the past for the Gulf Region.

Under the current method, P.E.I. has the lowest percentage of quota in the region despite the highest numbers of licenses.

McGeoghegan said the PEIFA will be making a presentation in March to a third party reviewer, Ernst and Young, advocating for a fairer allocation system and more P.E.I. based quota.

McGeoghegan said the PEIFA continues to seek additional markets for lobster, having participated in recent trade meetings with representatives from China and India.

“We need to look at new and innovative ways to help our industry,” said McGeoghegan. “We have a broken model that needs to be fixed.”

Topics such as renaming the canner lobster, rationalization of harvesting licenses, and the possibility of harvester contributions to marketing efforts are all things being discussed and considered. As has been past practice on P.E.I., fishers will be consulted before any major programs are committed to, said McGeoghegan.

The PEIFA continues to work closely with the provincial and federal governments in dealing with these many challenges.

McGeoghegan sees the present as an opportunity to improve the industry for those currently in the fishery and future new entrants.

“We are looking at made-in-P.E.I. solutions that keep jobs and money on P.E.I.”

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ernst and Young

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island Fishermen, China, India

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