EKFA held their annual meeting Monday where a new executive was selected. From left are outgoing treasurer Kevin Robinson and vice president Peter Boertien, incoming president Patrick Eastman, vice president Travis Gallant and secretary Nathan Cheverie. Charlotte MacAulay photo

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The Eastern Kings Fishermen’s Association is determined to have PEI lobster marketed as a Canadian product rather than specifically Island sourced.

The Lobster Marketing Board (LMB) is getting set to promote the sale of the PEI commodity through funds collected through the lobster levy.

At the same time the Eastern Kings Fishermen’s Association (EKFA) is putting its support behind the Lobster Council of Canada (LLC), whose mandate is to promote the product regionally.

Fishermen who attended Monday’s annual meeting of the EKFA unanimously agreed to make a $6,000 donation to the LCC and buy a membership into the organization, thus having the distinction of being the first PEI fishermen’s local organization to become a member.

The motion, put forward by fisherman Michael MacDonald, was in part due to the concern fishermen have over PEIFA marketing PEI lobster on its own over the last couple of years under the Master Lobster Brand.

The Lobster Levy, one cent per pound, is collected from fishers and processors.

When fishermen voted on the levy many said they were under the impression the intent was to promote Canadian lobster, not specifically PEI.

Several fishermen contend the better way is to market lobster in conjunction with the other Maritime Provinces and Maine.

“A lobster sold is a lobster off the market,” Walter Bruce said.

The LMB, under the umbrella of the PEIFA, was formed in January of 2016.

The PEIFA is now in the process of handing over all promotional activities off to the LMB, which is made up of 12 representatives from across the Island. Its members are tasked with finding the best way to utilize the levy funds, of which approximately $240,000 has been collected from the spring fishery.

“There is no reason we can’t ask to become a member of the LLC board now,” said Peter Boertien, outgoing vice president of EKFA.

Stephen MacPhee is on the LMB and though no specific spending decisions have been made he reported the group is strongly considering hiring a marketing specialist.

The LMB will hold its annual meeting in February and in the meantime, the levy from the fall fishery and processors will be collected.

After EKFA’s new executive was selected, president Patrick Eastman, vice president Travis Gallant, secretary Nathan Cheverie and treasurer Kent Poole, a few resolutions were made to be forwarded to the PEIFA annual meeting.

The creation of an owner-operator policy to ensure commercial operators don’t take over the fishery and a request have the PEIFA release financial information to members before the annual meeting were two resolutions made.

As well, fishermen are requesting a fund be set up to help with the financial burden of gearing up their fleets with new safety equipment Transport Canada has ordered be put in place before the spring lobster season open.

Issues to be taken to the province were also on the minds of fishermen.

The group is calling for an ombudsman, a third party intervener, to be put in place to help resolve any disputes between the PEIFA and individual fishermen.

The EKFA will host a species meeting on Monday, November 21, at 9:30am at the Fortune Community Centre.

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