By Greg Bennett
THE COAST GUARD
If James Mood has his way, fishermen in the region will stop selling lobsters until they get $5.50 a pound.
The Woods Harbour, Shelburne County businessman gathered together several hundred fishermen, businesspeople and community members at the Barrington Lions Hall on Jan. 4 to talk about forming a new lobster association focused on improving prices, which have ranged between $3.25 and $4 over the early part of the season.
He is asking fishermen in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34 to stop selling lobsters by noon on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in a bid to force dealers to pay more.
Mood, a long-time figure within several fisheries, noted that record prices for crab, scallops and groundfish were set over the fall and he expounded on the need for lobster fishermen to band together if they want to get a better price for their product.
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Many fishermen at the meeting expressed frustration at dealing with another season of low prices and higher bait and fuel costs.
Mood, who acted as meeting chair, dominated much of the discussion. He suggested that the time was ideal for combined action, suggesting that lobster dealers were running low on supplies.
“You’ll get your $5.50 if you listen to me,” said Mood.
During the meeting he offered some colorful talk about the status of the industry and the players within it. At times he berated the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as industry representatives and buyers.
“These lobster dealers are full of crap,” Mood said. “They don’t deserve any of your lobsters.”
Mood asked fishermen to support a new association that he would head along with four hand-picked directors. He said the group would represent fishermen within both districts and would operate democratically.
Following the meeting the group was seeking a name for itself and was also looking into the process of registering itself as an association. Only hours after the meeting ended, organizers were reaching out on social media to spread the word.
A few concerns were expressed during Wednesday’s meeting that more associations representing regional or other different interests within the industry could sprout up.
“We can’t allow that to happen,” said Mood.
Dues for the fledgling organization were set at $250 for licence holders and $25 per crewmember. Although Mood conceded that many fishermen would not immediately support a new group, several fishermen at the meeting wanted to fill out cheques on the spot. Many indicated they would pay the fees.
“We’re going to try to see our way out of this,” said Mood. “I think we’ve got a pretty good game plan …now let’s see what happens.”