Newspaper article The Canadian Press

East Coast Lobster booming:Fancy Pickups, a Boat Shortage and a 'Beyonce Bounce'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

East Coast Lobster booming:Fancy Pickups, a Boat Shortage and a 'Beyonce Bounce'

Article excerpt

East Coast lobster boom: 'Everybody's happy'

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HALIFAX - At the auto dealerships in southwestern Nova Scotia, it's not unusual for a fisherman to mark the purchase of a new truck by presenting the successful salesman with a fresh lobster.

Claude Bourgeois, sales manager at Tusket Ford, has been eating a lot of lobster lately.

"It's hard to stay slim," jokes Bourgeois, who says sales in August were the highest they've been in six years -- thanks to the booming lobster industry.

"We are definitely selling more trucks. It doesn't matter if it's us or Dodge or Chev. They all seem to be doing pretty well right now ... There doesn't seem to be as much price negotiations. The (fishermen) are buying high-end."

And it's not hard to see why.

The industry across the Maritimes moved into high gear last year, and has gained momentum since. Amid growing demand for the tasty crustaceans, fishermen have been hauling in record catches that are commanding the highest prices in more than a decade.

Aside from $65,000 trucks, the fishermen are also buying new boats -- if they can.

"The order books are full and many yards are booked for a couple of years out," says Tim Edwards, executive director of the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association. "They're busier than they've been in at least 10 years, maybe 12."

Part of the reason why boatbuilders can't keep up is a growing demand for longer, wider, more complex boats, typically worth between $500,000 and $750,000.

The latest generation of vessels include so-called live wells designed to carry lobster in freshly circulated seawater. The tanks keep the lobsters healthy, which means they're worth more at the dock.

These fishing boats, which can travel farther and carry more, can't be built fast enough, Edwards says.

"It's a nice situation for the industry right now."

The market for lobster has been getting a boost from the weak Canadian dollar, growing demand from China and a shift in consumer tastes toward processed meat in everything from lobster rolls to lobster macaroni and cheese.

And then there's the "Beyonce Bounce."

In February, U.S.-based seafood chain Red Lobster said its sales surged 33 per cent on Super Bowl Sunday, a boost attributed to the Beyonce song "Formation," which alludes to her taking a man to Red Lobster after sex.

Lobsters are so hot they're being stolen: A trailer loaded with frozen lobster was stolen from a processing plant in Grand Anse, N.B., in July, six months after more than 2,100 kilograms of premium-grade lobster were stolen from an ocean pen near Cape Sable Island, N.S.

In P.E.I., fishermen are currently getting about $6.75 a pound for fresh, market lobsters. That's a long way from the $3 per pound they were getting during the global economic meltdown in 2008-09.

Earlier this spring, when supplies were running low, lobsters from P. …

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