Cheap lobster on P.E.I. is bittersweet, even for some buyers


A P.E.I. lobster fishermen who couldn’t sell part of his catch on Saturday decided to pack his blue half-ton truck with lobster and head to the city to sell the once-lucrative crustaceans at a bargain price. 

At $3 for canners and $4 for markets, Tyler MacDonald had no trouble offloading the lobsters. He asked for 50 cents less than he was getting at the wharf for canners.

Last year, fishermen were being paid $5.50 for canners and $6 for markets. 

“I couldn’t sell half my catch today at the wharf due to the quota system imposed, so I decided that I would take it in here and offer it to the public at a decent price,” said MacDonald, who parked at a popular market in Marshfield, just east of Charlottetown. 

“You’re not making a whole lot of money but you’re making a little bit.” 

‘The price is really good’

Quotas were imposed on many fishermen because of a lack of demand for lobster worldwide.

COVID-19 has forced the closure of restaurants around the globe, cruise ships are tied up in port and international markets have been shut down slashing markets for P.E.I. lobster. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

COVID-19 has closed restaurants around the globe, cruise ships are tied and international markets have been shut down.

The P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association says the problem is compounded by a lack of workers at Island processing plants. That has cut processing capacity at Island plants by 30 per cent, the association said.  

Wayne and Janet Foy, a couple from Inkerman, drove nearly 40 kilometres to get a deal. The Foys said they’ve seen other people selling lobster out of their trucks for as much as $6.50 a pound.   

“I’m here to get some live lobster, the price is really good,” said Janet.

Wayne said it is sad to see fishermen being paid so little for their catch. 

‘Some might say that you’re better off staying ashore’

“It’s very sad to see. They’re working their butts off. They’re taking risks and putting their lives on the line and not reaping the rewards.”  

Tyler MacDonald, from left, sells lobster to Janet and Wayne Foy. The Foys travelled from Inkerman, nearly 40 kilometres away, to get a deal. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

P.E.I. fishermen were divided on whether they should have even gone lobster fishing this year.

The 32-year-old MacDonald, who fishes out of North Lake, said he wanted to go fishing. But he’s now having second thoughts. 

“Ask me that question now, I honestly don’t know if we still should be fishing,” he said. “We got buyers that aren’t taking lobster, some fellas didn’t go fishing out of my harbour today because they couldn’t take [the lobster]. So, if you look at it now, some might say that you’re better off staying ashore.”

MacDonald has been fishing for more than a decade, but he only purchased his own gear three years ago. That means he has some big payments to make while ensuring he’s making a living for himself, his wife and daughter.

MacDonald said government needs to step in and help fishermen.

“It means you watch where your money goes more, you really pay attention to where you are spending your money,” he said.

“It comes to not building any new gear this year, not ordering that new boat that you have ordered, you cutback and wait for a rebound here.”   

COVID-19: What you need to know

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Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

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More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.





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