Size matters, P.E.I.'s Bearded Skipper tells minister

Steve Sharratt
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Norman Peters, the 'Bearded Skipper', stands outside the Rustico Harbour Fisheries Museum. (Guardian file photo)

When Canada’s federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans leaned on his lobster trap last weekend and asked if size matters, the Bearded Skipper knew he had a catch.

“He heard I had 50 years on the water and thought I might have a little knowledge, so he asked for my advice,” said Norman Peters, the North Rustico fisherman who, with his trim white beard and captain’s hat, has become the promotional face of the P.E.I. fishery.

Peters was attending the Boston Seafood show in New England as a promoter for his North Rustico fishery museum and the P.E.I. fishery in general. He’s also on the board of directors with the Fisherman’s Association.

“I had a (lobster) trap sittin’ in my booth and was explaining to people about how we catch lobster and how good P.E.I. lobster tastes,’’ he said.

Peters, who hopes to once again set his traps this spring, was swamped by the capacity crowd at the seafood show; especially Japanese and Chinese interests after he was a hit in China last fall promoting the Island fishery and winding up on the front page of a national newspaper.

“I was all alone when Mr. (Fisheries Minister Keith) Ashfield came along and he leaned on my trap wanting to know about the carapace issue,’’ said Peters.

That’s where the size comes in. The carapace is the length of the lobster shell (the part with the legs only) and Maritime fishing districts have different measurements. The size differences may be less than the width of a slice of baloney, but P.E.I. — at 72 mm — has been fighting to preserve its smaller and unique size and oppose a one size fits all mentality. There is also no conservation reasoning behind the increase.

“I told him it would be very, very bad for P.E.I. if the feds forced us to a larger lobster,” said the Skipper.

“I told him to leave us alone...nicely mind you...and that it was stupid because then everyone would be tossed together into the fresh market size.”

Peters said he was surprised to have such an opportunity to speak with a federal politician in such an informal manner. He also provided a similar opinion to the Quebec minister of fisheries as well.

“They asked and I spoke my piece,” he said.

“I often wonder if it’s worth going to these big shows like China and Boston, but then you realize how important it is to speak face to face to a person rather than on a phone — that’s where sincerity can’t be faked.”

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Recent comments

  • clam
    March 20, 2013 - 16:28

    The fisherman do good for themselves,so they should all stick together,but like everybody else,greed gets in the way,so they will never have everybody on side.I know this by talking to some of them.They will stick together with the size factor which they should,and mr peters and charlie should lead this group together

  • bye the way
    March 20, 2013 - 12:53

    Lighten up Gordo...he was being facetious (making fun) toward Super Hero MLA Charlie McG. It was hardly demeaning towards Capt. Highliner.

    • Thank You
      March 20, 2013 - 20:03

      Thank you for setting the record straight...some people just dont get the humour anymore

  • Gordon Gallant
    March 20, 2013 - 09:38

    Bet He Can , Norman Peters, is the most respected and knowledgeable Fishermen on this fair Isle! He was and still is a Super Hero amongst all Fishermen. I am from North Rustico , and if Norman tells you something is good or , bad for all Fishermen, then you better believe it. Charlie may be your hero but you will go far and wide to get the same respect , Norman Peters , has gotten over the years from all Fishermen on Prince Edward Island. With that being said I find your comment about pulling oneself back into the boat, to be demeaning to a man who is much older but wiser than a man his junior as is such Mr. McGeoghan!

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    March 20, 2013 - 09:16

    Listen Norman, I am sure that by now, with all your experience, that you could smell whether or not his interest in carapace size was sincere? As I am sure you know, politicians always behave as though they have YOU and YOUR best interests at heart. They go the extra mile, they give you the extra smile, they assure you that your interests are genuinely being addressed and taken care, only to realize later that the words were empty, the smiles meant nothing and things do not change for the better, AS PROMISED. Ashfield has risen to close to the top of the whole bunch in Ottawa so he is obviously QUITE SKILLED AT HIS CRAFT. I am glad the decision "FOR NOW" has gone our way, but I dread the future and what it is going to bring?

    • to bill kays
      March 20, 2013 - 11:44

      spoken like a true negative nellie...and cynical to boot!

    • Bore Head
      March 20, 2013 - 21:54

      Bill, you are absolutely correct in your assessment. No one will look you square in the eye, tell you what you want to hear, and act more concerned than your own mother would, than a true pro.

  • Bet he cant
    March 20, 2013 - 09:06

    But can he pull himself back into the boat like Super Hero and local MLA Charlie Mcg!