ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's lobster industry is hoping a court ruling in New Brunswick will end the protests that have threatened lobster shipments from Maine into Canada. The protests have been going on for more than a week, led by a group of Canadian fishermen that wants to block low-price Maine lobster from going to processing plants in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Thursday afternoon, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a judge in Moncton, New Brunswick, issued a 10-day injunction to prevent the protestors from blocking lobster processing plants. The CBC reports the injunction was sought by owners of five processing companies that have been targeted by the protests over the past week.
Many Maine lobstermen and lobster dealers have become worried that the continuing protests could threaten their ability to sell lobsters to Canada. At least two co-ops in Maine told their fishermen on Thursday to stay home, because there wasn't a buyer for their lobster. Other dealers have told NEWS CENTER that finding a market for their lobsters had become "a day to day" challenge.
Industry experts say Maine ships about 70% of the lobster caught here to processing p0lants in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The protests in New Brunswick have resulted in a number of plants being closed on different days, and some truckloads of Maine lobster being turned away. Jamie Steeves of J&J Lobster in Rockland told NEWS CENTER he had a truck turned away and was forced to find another buyer for those lobsters at a significantly lower price - meaning he "lost a lot of money, to say the least."
Steves and several other lobster dealers have questioned why police in New Brunswick haven't appeared to do more to ensure shipments reach the plants. However, Major Alan Talbot of the Maine Marine Patrol says he believes law enforcement in Canada has been doing all it can to cope with the protest problem.
Talbot says the Marine Patrol has been in frequent contact with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and says it appears the actual problems with truck deliveries have happened at the processing plants, and not on the highways. Talbot says some plant owners have yielded to pressure from the protestors and sent trucks back to Maine, still loaded.
A CBC news report last week showed video of protestors appearing to open the doors on a tractor-trailer load of lobsters, while police looked on. Talbot says he believes the RCMP has been doing all it can in the situation, and says "it is a foreign country, and although they are very good neighbors, they operate under different laws that don't coincide with what we deal with."
Protestors and processors are scheduled to meet with New Brunswick Fisheries officials on Friday. The lobster season for the Northumberland Strait area between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island - the region where the protest has been centered - begins on Monday.