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Fishermen in P.E.I. blocking ports, demanding higher lobster prices

Lobster boats from Covehead Harbour on the north shore of P.E.I. head out at dawn to the fishing grounds Thusday April 30 for the opening day of fishing. The season in the Gulf of St. Lawrence runs May and June. Fishers across the Island are expressing concern about prices and fear buyers will use the state of the economy to keep prices low.

BRIAN McINNIS/The Canadian Press

Fishermen blockaded ports Wednesday in Prince Edward Island during peaceful protests over low lobster prices.

Fishermen involved in the protest say they will not fish until they are paid $5 per pound for lobster.

Prices are currently about $3 per pound.

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Some captains ignored the boycott and did go out to fish, and only ports with processing plants were affected by the protest.

Fisherman Kent Clements said that without an upward shift in prices, very little lobster will be caught this week.

"We've had enough. ... None of us can afford to fish any more and we all might as well stay home," he said.

Donnie Johnston, another lobster fisherman, said he's determined to receive $5 per pound before he agrees to set his traps.

"The only people not making money from lobster is us," he said.

At Beach Point, fishermen hauled up a few boats and blocked the entrance to the harbour authority.

They say the blockade will remain until prices increase.

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The RCMP were on hand to observe, but did not interfere.

By 10 a.m., a port meeting on the wharf in Graham's Pond had more than 150 fishermen voting unanimously to go on strike until their price is met.

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, said the low prices are preventing rural fishermen from remaining in the industry.

The Opposition Conservative party called on the province's Liberal government to become involved in the price dispute.

Fisheries critic Colin LaVie said the province should bring fishermen and processors together to find a solution.

"I will say that we need an industry-led solution," he said. "However, the minister needs to work with the industry to bring all the stakeholders together to find that solution."

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