FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — The union representing lobster fishermen in New Brunswick said Saturday that it has reached an agreement with the provincial government and fish-processing plants after fishermen blockaded several Canadian plants, demanding that they not accept cheaper lobsters from Maine.
Christian Brun of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union said a tentative deal was reached Friday night and approved by most of the fishermen Saturday.
Tensions over lobster prices bubbled over last week, when fishermen in the province held demonstrations in Cap-Pele and Shediac and trucks were blocked from delivering Maine lobsters to processing plants. Canadian lobstermen say the low price of Maine lobsters is driving down prices in Canada and stealing their livelihood.
By Wednesday, every lobster processing plant in New Brunswick had shut down operations.
Maine each year ships millions of pounds of lobsters to Canada, where they’re turned into a variety of products that are sold on retail markets, mostly in the United States.
Canada has more than two dozen processing plants, while Maine has only three large ones of any size.
Processors in New Brunswick agreed more than a week ago to pay a minimum of $2.52 per pound for processed lobster and $3.03 per pound for live market lobster but the union said it wasn’t enough.
Calls for financial compensation were rejected by the New Brunswick government and the protests continued for a week before a provincial judge issued a 10-day injunction Thursday preventing fishermen from blockading the plants.
The dispute tested relations between New Brunswick and the state of Maine, where Republican Senator Olympia Snowe called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise the matter with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Brun said the deal reached Saturday calls for processors to pay an additional 25 Canadian cents per lobster, to be matched by the union.
Brun said the union plans to take out a loan to cover the extra expense.
The union’s 25 Canadian cents will come from snow crab revenues and will be capped at 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms) of lobster for each harvester, or less if the funds get used up sooner, he said.