And they’re off!

Community COVID-19 Featured Online First

Local lobster fishermen set off from the wharves earlier this morning to begin their season of fishing, which had been delayed this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

On Wednesday, the NORTHUMBERLAND FISHERMEN’S CO-OP announced that due to low market conditions this year all members are going to keep one clawed lobster out of their catch that is sold to the co-op. This move will reduce the number of non-premium lobsters on the market. On average, one clawed lobster makes up as much as 10 per cent of the daily catch.

In an addition, as part of the co-op’s ongoing effort to promote a sustainable fishery into the future, this year as a trial, it  will also be returning all large, four-pound and over, female lobsters back to the sea. 

Also on Wednesday, members of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, one of the largest fish harvester’s association in Atlantic Canada, said they were pleased to receive news of a $470M federal financial support initiative for harvesters.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, harvester associations have been assessing the potential impacts of this situation on the livelihood of harvesters and the economic sustainability of coastal communities and pressing the federal government for measures to support this vital Canadian industry.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced three key measures:

• a $252 million wage subsidy program that will provide coverage of 75 per cent of losses up to $10,000 for fishing enterprise owners and crew, if they demonstrate a 25 per cent decrease in income due to the pandemic.

• a $10,000 non-repayable grant to help license holders deal with fixed costs

• a commitment to support fish harvesters and plant workers by making changes to the Employment Insurance system to ensure fish harvesters and plant workers qualify based on income from previous years.

“We are pleased with the Federal government’s commitment to providing income security, debt relief and access to grants for harvesters. (The) announcement was long overdue and is a relief to harvesters and coastal communities who have been making these requests since March.,” said Gaëtan Robichaud, president of the MFU.

The MFU will study the details of these programs and will continue working with all levels of government to ensure all fish harvesters have access to appropriate support for the 2020 season.