The frustration was evident on Wednesday afternoon in Barrington as a group of area fishermen listened to James Mood’s solution for low lobster prices, which have sunk to $3 a pound this fall because record catches have led to a glut.
The 1688 Fishermen’s Association president repeated his simple solution, one that he’s also offered at wharves in Yarmouth, several times,
“Stop fishing,” he said. “If you fellas continue to go …you’ll catch 80 per cent of your lobsters by January 1. And if you don’t do anything about it you’ve lost this year …you’ve lost it.”
Mood offered a bleak scenario for the industry if fishermen do not stop fishing until prices rise.
“20 percent of license holders will have to get out of this,” he offered. “Where are those licenses going to go …you know exactly where they’re going to go …the corporate world.”
Although some in the crowd complained about the profits being made by lobster buyers while fishermen were fighting with higher prices for fuel and bait, Mood blamed, in part, the competitive nature of fishermen for the situation.
“You fellows have done this to yourself ...there’s only one way to stop it ...shut the fishery down. Shut it down,” he emphasized.
During Mood’s presentation local lobster buyer Chris Malone told the group of about 50 fishermen and community members that there were too many lobsters being landed and that fishermen needed to find a way to slow catches down until demand could take up some of the current glut.
He said lobster dealers were also having a difficult time because of the market glut.
“ Their (the buyers’) job is to buy lobsters as cheap as they can,” said Malone. “I’m buying lobsters from dealers …I was up all last night buying two loads out of Lockeport for $2.75 that I’m sure that they paid more than $2.75 for…they’re not taking these lobster and making a whole bunch of money …they’re in a mess too.”
Malone said he didn’t know if a shutdown of the industry was the right solution, but he offered that something needed to be done.
“If you don’t have some way to control the amount of lobsters that come in in this glut ..and that is the key thing that’s caused this problem I don’t know,” he said. “As far as the dealers go …they’re not going to save you. And, I can’t believe there’s so few people taking an interest in it …it’s the lifeblood of the whole community.”
You fellas are destroying this industry and your communities with it,” he said.