P.E.I. anticipates record lobster catch

Steve Sharratt
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Landings projected to be as much as 35 per cent higher than 2011

A fisherman throws a bouy onto is traps as he loads his boat.

Prince Edward Island has fished a record haul of lobster this year with some estimating the seafood king landings will be as much as 35 per cent higher than 2011.

That kind of increase is one of the factors causing some of the weakest lobster prices in years for Maine fishermen, says Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources in Maine. As well, it has helped to create a lack of demand by Canadian processors to import Maine lobster.

“That figure seems huge,” said Ian MacPherson, general manager of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association in response to the claims from south of the border. “We have had a strong year but I think 35 per cent is over the top.

Keliher was commenting this week about the situation of low prices in his home state when he made the reference. Maine fishermen are tying up their boats after prices have dipped to below $2 a pound.

‘’We’re getting a double-whammy this year,” Keliher is quoted.

“Prince Edward Island had a 35 per cent catch increase over last year for hard shells and had early shedding. That’s one thing. Second, our summer fishery started the end of May, not July (and) there is a glut of product.”

MacPherson said many Island harbours are up this year in overall catches, but he didn’t have any final numbers yet. Unofficial estimates are hovering around the 23 million pound mark, which would surpass the 22.9 million record set in 2009.

P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley has confirmed to fishermen the spring lobster catch is up at least 20 per cent. The 2011 catch was 20.7 million pounds. Meanwhile prices, while poor in the past, have inched their way north of $3.50 to $4 a pound.

Seafood.com says Keliher refused a request by lobstermen for a state of emergency fishery closure due to the low prices. The commissioner also warned harvesters, says the website, not to create a defacto shut down by threatening to cut trap lines of those who fished.

Maine lobster is beginning to arrive on P.E.I. for processing — but at bargain basement prices.

‘’No one wants to see anyone get a low price, but if it’s for sale, you buy it,’’ said one processor privately.

Some lobster was being sold for processing south of the border for as little as $1 a pound.

‘’Maine has had a good catch year as well,” said MacPherson. ‘’They hope the tourist market will absorb much of the back log.’’

The glut of soft shelled lobster is due to the warmer water this year which pushed the Maine spring fishery ahead earlier than usual. The soft shelled lobster (shedders) being caught now will become hard shelled in a few short weeks.

Organizations: Department of Marine Resources

Geographic location: Maine, Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. Fishermen

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Recent comments

  • Sam
    July 18, 2012 - 09:19

    Come on......Stop the reverse guilt here. Admit it that Lobsterman had a very good run at it thanks to the public funding , grants , and subsidies through the 80's, 90's and on but ran into some not so good times in recent years but have always been far better off than the average worker in the same community due to public support and the public should get some gratitiude for supporting you and your family in your business. Seriously , if you pay 80% of the EI back anyway then why take it in the first place ? Why not run your business like any other and bank your profits and live off them and not take any EI cheque at all like the rest of the business owners? With the exception of the gifted few riding on old PnP money ( new PnP program out now to take care of the Big Boys its $500K-$1Mil now) everyone on PEI has had a rough 2-3 yrs. Those who get ahead leave family and a PEI life behind and head for Alberta/Sask. Those who can make a living and still stay on PEI are very fortunate or have a government job Those PEI native plant workers could only dream of living like their neighbouring Lobsterman in the past but they got replaced by foreign slave labor thanks to Prov/Fed governments....so I'd be more concerned about not dissing the public and getting our support to stop local PEI Lobsterman getting replaced by seasonal foreign boats with foreign crews feeding foreign owned plants. I have nothing against foreign workers "if" an Islander won't take the job but they are being sold to Plants as low cost slave labour by the foreign governments. Some conditions are digusting and shameful , like how the Chinese workers in Georgetown were living in the plant and scavanging crabs and fish off locals because they made so little they could not afford to eat properly....a PEI sweat shop , maybe NYC TV should be made aware of that. Gentle Island ? Its been pretty harsh for most Islanders for some time now so maybe its Fantasy Island for the tourists and Survivor Island for the rest of us !

  • tired of it all
    July 18, 2012 - 07:27

    ya think so! i got a 11:00 am tee time......comming?

  • Nor'easter
    July 18, 2012 - 05:47

    This story will only get remarks from the people whom only see the new truck in the yard of the fisherman instead of the old rusted one he had. Oh, and he was still paying on it too instead of buying food for the family, the misses was doing that. I'm guessing the PEI lending agency will be the happiest out of this news article

  • Nor'easter
    July 18, 2012 - 02:00

    For all interested dummies out there , about 80% of EI is payed back when their income tax is done in the spring so Harper gets to spend it on whatever he likes

  • getting old
    July 17, 2012 - 22:49

    Here we go again... all these tough guys shooting there mouth off about the same old ei comments.. gets old... and a lot of us continue to work.. why don't u use Ur real name or drop by any wharf and discuss your issues... o Forgot.. COWARD

  • Greeneyed Monster
    July 17, 2012 - 21:04

    Nothing more entertaining than listening to a bunch of down on their lot in life losers knocking firhermen...lmao. Shame you didn't know a little about the subject.

  • Lester the Crustacean
    July 17, 2012 - 19:58

    Let's see how much EI and other subsidies the Maine fishermen get from the taxpayers. Any Guesses?

  • So
    July 17, 2012 - 19:57

    Why should these guys be allowed to draw pogey 10 months of the year?

    • involved in the fishery
      July 20, 2012 - 10:24

      To see the comments made towards fisherman by a bunch of cowards that will not put their names is really sickening. The state of the ei system has nothing to do with fisherman. it has to do with people who abuse the system. fisherman may work a short time for a big glut of money but they also have huge bills to pay out of that money. And for many there is nothing left afterwards. People say that its not fair that we get ei and farmers cant. But the fact is we cant store our catch and sell it later like farmers can

  • flyingfisherman
    July 17, 2012 - 19:26

    Now for harpers EI changes.Fisherman have to work for more then 2 months no more camping 4 wheeling and golf you have to work like the rest of us......