By the end of Saturday, the lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador will be finished for 2012.
Having already concluded in most parts of the province, numbers for what has been an eventful season news wise — a dispute over pricing convinced the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union to form a co-op — are similar to those for landings in 2011, but well below figures from 2010 and 2009.
As of Tuesday, 4.4 million pounds of lobster was caught provincewide at a value of $18 million. Those numbers are up slightly from 2011, when almost 4.3 million pounds was caught at a value of almost $16.9 million.
In both 2010 and 2009, more than 5.5 million pounds of lobster was harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Last month, west coast lobster harvester Michael Hickey told The Western Star the fishery is becoming cost prohibitive, with bait costing 45 cents per pound and fuel prices on the rise.
When the FFAW and the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL) were initially unable to agree on a price for product in mid-April, the FFAW elected to form the co-op to purchase lobster from harvesters.
The dispute lasted two weeks before a deal was reached in early May, allowing SPONL to once again purchase product from harvesters.
Speaking with The Telegram Wednesday, FFAW president Earle McCurdy said a meeting will be held in the near future to look at how to proceed with the co-operative.
“We’ve got a board of directors put in place, and they’ll be meeting in the relatively near future to plan the activities for that group going forward,” he said. “It’s here to stay, and the question now is how that will unfold and what role it will play.”
Meanwhile, efforts to enhance the viability of the lobster fishery have continued through the Lobster Enterprise Retirement Program.
According to a news release issued last month by the Newfoundland Lobster Sustainability Board, 39 lobster licences were bought back in the first two rounds, and McCurdy expects three more rounds of bidding will take place before the next lobster season.
“Both those matters (the co-op and the retirement program) are related to doing everything that can be done to improve the viability of the fishing enterprises that are involved with lobster,” said the union leader.
The closing date for submissions for Round 3, pertaining to licence holders in lobster fishing areas 11 to 14B, is July 20.