U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, today welcomed a ruling from a New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench judge, who granted a 10-day injunction to limit Canadian lobstermen from blocking Maine lobster trucks trying to reach the processing plants. The action was reportedly requested by five fish processing plants in New Brunswick. According to the State Department, the ruling from Justice George Rideout imposes a maximum of six picketers at the processors, and at any given time they must be at least 200 feet from the entrance, exit, or property of the facilities.
Members of Senator Snowe's staff also organized a phone call today with the Governor LePage's office, the offices of Maine's Congressional Delegation, and staff from the U.S. Department of State to discuss the situation and the injunction. A number of issues were raised by Sen. Snowe's staff today, including the possible court action, the impact on the Canadian fish processing sector, and future trade implications with Canada. The representatives on the phone call discussed the best way forward to ensure the vitality of Maine's fishing industry and the continued, collaborative relationship with the United State's trading partners in Canada.
Senator Snowe said:
"This critical injunction is welcome news for Maine's hardworking lobstermen and truckers who have been shipping their product to processors in Canada, only to have their catch returned to the state and at times damaged or destroyed due to unacceptable blockades of our trucks. While this court action stands over the next ten days, it is my strong hope that both sides can coalesce around a path forward to rectify this situation and ensure Maine soft-shell lobster is shipped in a timely manner to the Canadian processors without intimidation, violence, or coercion. Maine and Canadian trading partners have worked together for generations and it is time we return to that collaborative relationship. While we work on building a long-term solution, I am hopeful that the Canadian government will enforce this injunction and provide the resources to ensure that commerce can return to normal."
On Wednesday, Senator Snowe sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to investigate the matter, raise the issue with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, and make the situation a priority within the United States' bilateral relations with the Government of Canada.