FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — New Brunswick fishermen staged a protest outside the Canadian fisheries minister's office Wednesday in their ongoing dispute over the import of low-priced lobsters from Maine, while a U.S. senator called on the province to ensure the smooth flow of goods across the border.
The fishermen are upset that low-priced lobsters from Maine are being processed in the province, thereby driving down prices for their own products.
"They can't take it anymore," said Christian Brun, a spokesman for the Maritime Fishermen's Union. "They're going to go bankrupt and everybody's on the edge."
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine weighed into the fracas, calling on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to investigate the lobster dispute.
"While I understand that the New Brunswick government is attempting to control these protests, it is clear that additional Canadian resources are necessary to maintain order and ensure continued commerce across the border," Snowe said in a letter to Clinton. Lobster processors in New Brunswick agreed Friday to pay a minimum of $2.50 per pound for processed lobster and $3 per pound for live market lobster. But Brun said New Brunswick fishermen need $4 per pound for both fresh and processed lobster just to break even.
The flare-up over lobster prices came to a head last week, when fishermen held demonstrations in Cap-Pele and Shediac, New Brunswick, and trucks were prevented from delivering Maine lobsters to three processors.