HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Maritimers could be up to their elbows in melted butter this winter if an expected decline in lobster prices materializes.
People in the lobster industry say holiday export sales were lower than expected this year, leaving a glut of live crustaceans.
“Everybody’s stuck with some high-priced inventory,” Monte Snow, general manager of Fisherman’s Market in Halifax, said Wednesday.
Snow said the expectation among exporters was that the millennium celebrations would create a big demand for lobster. That pushed the price to up to 10 percent higher than during the 1998 holidays, despite higher catches in 1999.
Sales were OK locally, but were below expectations on the international market. Canneries are also busy with a glut of cheap U.S. shellfish.
“People stayed in more than they did last year,” Snow said. “The lobsters wound up in the hands of the shippers.”
The inevitable result of all those lobsters will be a dip in prices this winter, he said.
Leonard LeBlanc, a fishermen in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, is concerned prices will fall in the coming weeks and stay low for months, depressing the price during the spring lobster season.
“They’re obviously going to take a loss. The price has to go down,” he said.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence does not have a fall lobster fishery, so did not benefit from the high catch and high prices in recent months. Its spring catch starts May 1 and lasts until the end of June.
LeBlanc, a member of the Cheticamp and Area Lobster Fishermen’s Association, said shippers will try to recover their holiday losses by squeezing the price later this year.