Canada lobster fishers feel pinch of global crisis
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - People eating in restaurants are spending less and avoiding pricier foods, which means you can now add Canada's lobster fishermen to the long list of those hurt by the global financial crisis.
The C$1 billion ($775 million) a year industry is struggling to cope with a slump in demand in the United States and Europe that has pushed wholesale prices in some places down to levels not seen in 25 years or more.
"A lot of lobster is eaten in restaurants and restaurant sales are very sluggish, we're told," said Denny Morrow, head of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.
"(With) this financial meltdown and the constant barrage of negative economic news ... I think consumers are choosing not to buy the high-end items," he told Reuters on Monday, saying demand for live lobster at this time of year is usually high.
The Canadian industry is centered in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Last year fishermen could sell their lobsters for as much as C$7 a pound. This year they are getting much less.
"Our season just finished and our prices were C$4 a pound to the fisherman. That's about 25 percent less than compared to last year ... (while) operating costs have increased by about 32 percent," said Ed Frenette of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association.
"Everybody is relating it to the financial crisis worldwide ... the American consumer just doesn't seem to be buying lobster, considering it to be a luxury item," he told Reuters. Continued...