Minister is wrong to impose lobster tax without consent of industry

July 28, 2014

(Shelburne, NS) NDP Fisheries critic Sterling Belliveau says it’s time for the Premier and the Fisheries Minister to start answering questions about their sudden decision to impose a 5 cent a pound levy on lobster landings without industry consent.

Belliveau says before the government can impose a tax on the lobster fishery, “Votes need to be held and a mandate must first be obtained.”

“The Minister is not respecting the independence of our lobster fishery and he should know better,” said Belliveau. “For him to make any major change to the industry without the permission of buyers and fishers is wrong. What I’ve heard over the past few days is that Minster Colwell has a lot of explaining to do.”

Belliveau pointed to the recent LFA 34 vote on reducing trap limits as an example of how the provincial government should proceed.

“Just a few weeks ago fishermen in LFA 34 voted to maintain the current trap limit in the region – a vote the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans respected,” said Belliveau. “Had DFO decided to reduce the number of traps unilaterally fishermen would have been extremely upset and justifiably so.”

He added, “The Minister can’t just tell lobster harvesters what’s best for them. If he wants to impose a 5 cent a pound tax on lobster landings, he needs to first ensure he has the support of the industry and to this point he hasn’t done that.”

83 million pounds of lobster were caught in Nova Scotia last year which means the proposed levy could generate roughly $4 million per year. Belliveau wants to know who the Liberal government is proposing will administer the funds and for what purposes.

“Minister Colwell has yet to explain what most of this tax will be used for and who will administer his $4 million cash cow. Furthermore, are the other Maritime provinces also going to legislate this 5 cent a pound tax on lobster landings, or will this tax be applied exclusively to Nova Scotia buyers and fishers?” asked Belliveau.