Record lobster catches yielding as little as $3.25 per pound has an impassioned group of industry experts calling on Atlantic Canadian business for support.
Canadian Atlantic Lobster Inc. and Lobster.ca are urging businesses to participate in All Boats Rise with the Tide, an annual industry publication that’s full of thousands of dollars of savings.
The publication will offer coupons from participating companies that will encourage people to shop locally, which could change the tide of not just the lobster industry but Atlantic Canada’s economy, co-founder Patrick Swim said Friday.
“It’s a value-proposition to people in the industry to become a part of the membership and work together, pulling in one direction positively,” Swim said. “It’s our first call to action for businesses to get behind this industry and help usher in an era of ‘lobsterpreneurship’ among Atlantic Canadian businesses.”
With a first print run of more than 10,000, All Boats Rise will be circulated among industry stakeholders in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
But enticing Atlantic Canadians with savings is just the beginning, Swim said.
With more than 25,000 fisherman at work in the region, Canadian Atlantic Lobster is organizing itself as a co-operative, intent on using annual membership fees to market, brand and support the Atlantic Canadian lobster industry worldwide.
Using fair trade coffee and Kobe beef as benchmarks, the group is developing industry standards for fair trade lobster so only the best, high-quality lobster make it to market.
Like consumers paying a premium for Kobe beef, the group wants to establish Atlantic Canadian lobster as a premium product that can command a higher price.
The industry standards would limit the number and type of lobster being sold and a create a more efficient dock-to-market system. Soft-shelled, or B-grade, lobster would be canned or tossed back in the water. So would the elder, heavier lobsters and those with crushed claws and other imperfections.
“We have the Mercedes Benz of lobster in Atlantic Canada and we need to approach this as a united front to market it that way,” Swim said. “Just 50 cents per pound more to the fishermen would be $70,000,000 back in to the East Coast economy. Imagine $1.00 more.”
Although still in consultation with fishermen and stakeholders, the group has developed a few novel ways to ensure that customers worldwide know the mouth-watering lobster dish they’re about to dive into, originated in Atlantic Canada.
About 70 per cent of lobster caught off our shores is shipped to buyers in the U.S., who then turn around and resell the lobster to international customers as an American product.
To combat the country-of-origin misnomer, the group has created patriotic lobster claw bands and tags featuring a quick-response or QR code and the Lobster.ca web address.
“We’re selling the best-of-the-best but when a customer in Singapore, for example, gets a lobster, it’s coming in a tank that says it’s a product of the U.S.A.,” he said. “We’re missing out on a huge education opportunity and not doing our local economy any favours.”
Scanning the QR code would take the consumer to a portal of the Lobster.ca website that shows exactly where in Atlantic Canada the lobster was caught, by whom and links to their business website.
Once implemented, the tags will be an added expense — likely around 25 cents per tag — for fisherman but that’s still money in the bank.
Swim and his counterparts are among the dozens of local entrepreneurs who will pitch their ideas to Dragons’ Den producers Saturday in Halifax.