By Tina Comeau
A second attempt to rally crewmembers behind an attempt to disrupt, or halt, the start of the lobster season next week has fizzled.
A meeting on the Lobster Rock Wharf on Friday afternoon failed to draw the numbers needed to vote on any form of action that would have had any significant impact on the fishery.
The meeting was called following a meeting on Wednesday night that attracted around 160 people, far short of what organizers had hoped for.
The Friday, Nov. 23 gathering attracted about the same numbers.
For those who wanted to see possible strike action – or any action – it was another devastating blow.
And while those who were at the wharf were prepared to strike, the organizer of the crewmembers’ effort said the numbers weren’t enough. When the crowd was polled there were some ports that had a few members present, but there were other ports that didn’t have any at all.
Fishermen are facing the prospect of another season that will open with a price around the $3.50 a pound mark. Strike action, it was believed, might allow industry to force a higher price.
There was speculation on the wharf as to why more crewmembers didn’t turn out. Some might be worried they’ll lose their jobs. Some may feel intimidated. Some may feel they have no choice and have to fish at any price because they are deep in depth. If their captains are going, they have to go to.
“To get change you’ve got to be willing to want to change,” said organizer Troy Nickerson. “The pride in what we’ve been doing is leaving. It's humiliating. Imagine four weeks from now getting that second or third paycheque. And yet you’ve still put in the same effort you’ve done every year.
He said the low turnout a second time was disappointed. But maybe three or four weeks into the season, when people are really suffering, they’ll be more apt to stand up to make a change then, he said.
“I believe that once these people suffer a little bit more, they may be more willing to come onside. I know that’s not want a lot of you wanted to hear today, you had high expectations . . . but we just don’t have the numbers yet.”
The lobster season was to have started on Monday, Nov. 26 with dumping day, but because of the winds and a weather system forecasted for Monday the opening of the season in LFA 34 has been postponed by one day. Instead, fishermen will dump their pots on Tuesday and can start hauling their catches on Wednesday.
Neighbouring LFA 33 is making its decision on the start of the season in a conference call on the weekend.
Meanwhile, at the Lobster Rock Wharf, people were invited to come to the microphone to speak. Only one person did.
“Talk is cheap,” said one fishermen who was completely fed up over the fact that people will complain about the price that lobster fishermen are being paid, but they won’t stand up to do anything about it. To those who didn’t come out to the wharf he had this to say.
“We had our chance to clean up after all the messes that have been made in this fishery. We cleaned their snarls up, now we could have cleaned this mess up. But you boys don’t want to step up. You don’t want to get off the couches. You don’t want to do nothing about it no more. I don’t want to hear about it no more. Enough!”