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Nova Scotia wants to charge buyers a lobster levy

One cent for every pound caught would pay for ad campaigns promoting lobster

A lobster marketing levy on sales still isn't in place in Nova Scotia but the provincial government would be allowed to collect such a fee under legislation it introduced earlier this week.

Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell said a change to the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act would enable the province to collect a financial contribution through regulations once the industry decides what form it will take.

But Colwell said there is still no consensus among lobster fishermen on the implementation of a levy. Any solution would ultimately be industry driven, he added.

Lobster fishermen in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have agreed to the collection of a marketing levy, which was first proposed in 2013.

It would see fishermen and the onshore side of the industry, such as buyers and processors, each pay one cent on every pound of lobster caught to cover the cost of advertising campaigns and other promotional initiatives.

Colwell said it's important to get some sort of mechanism in place in Nova Scotia.

``At the present time we are selling every lobster we can possibly get at a very high price,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, that could change at any time.''

The levy proposal has been met with resistance on Nova Scotia's southwest shore. Winning over the area's fishery is key because it accounts for 40 per cent of the country's total catch.

Progressive Conservative Chris d'Entremont was critical of the Liberal government’s legislation. Specifically, he pointed to a lack of specifics on such things as the size of a potential fee is a problem for fishermen.

``It doesn't give them (fishermen) any latitude to actually do something so this is going to be dead in the water,'' said d'Entremont.

The NDP's Sterling Belliveau was also dismissive, saying fishermen will need to see clear regulations on a fee and who can collect it before there is any movement in support of the measure.

The legislation came the same week that the start of the Nova Scotia lobster season was delayed due to ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The season in the southern gulf was supposed to start next Thursday, but federal Fisheries officials say there is too much ice in the area.

They say fishermen from Pugwash to Antigonish and other Nova Scotia communities in Cape Breton are affected by the delay.

It's not clear when it will open, but the department says it will provide an update next week. It says the season for fishermen in Area 29 on the south side of Cape Breton should open as scheduled.

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