© Brett Poirier photo
Rickey and Chancie Cole finished packing the trailer with their children Darrison and Makayla. The family is moving away to find new work because the lobster fishing industry has been struggling in recent years.
SPRING VALLEY — The Cole family won’t be calling Prince Edward Island home much longer.
The family of four is moving to Alberta in pursuit of more financially stable work.
Rickey Cole has been fishing since 1995 and has slowly seen the market begin to deteriorate.
“The industry is at an all-time low,” he said. “I have more money going out than I do coming in.”
Cole has been fishing lobster out of French River for years and says the last two seasons have been by far the worst.
“I haven’t made a profit since 2012. I’ve been going west in the winter to make ends meet.”
The industry on the Island has struggled the past several seasons, however, and the market price this fall is up from last year to around $3.50 per pound.
Cole explained a scenario where the price of lobster could be $4 per pound and he would barely break even.
“I have to pay for equipment, help, fuel, bait, income tax, maintenance and other expenses throughout the year. You’re looking anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 in expenses and you’re only making $60,000 to $80,000.”
Cole and his wife, Chancie, along with their children, Darrison and Makayla, are just about packed up for Alberta. The family has mixed emotions about the move.
“We’re all excited about new opportunities,” said Chancie. “It’s a chance to start fresh.”
She said it’s hard to leave the Island, a place where she and her husband both grew up.
“We’re leaving our home. Some parts about this are difficult but Rickey and I have been positive so our children don’t get upset.”
Fortunately, the parents have an easy task.
Their 11-year-old son is thrilled to head west.
“I’m excited for new opportunities,” Darrison said, smiling from ear to ear.
In addition to making new friends at school, Darrison is also looking forward to new teammates.
“I play hockey and baseball and there’s other sports to try there.”
The Coles aren’t the only Islanders who have been forced to leave.
“I personally know another fellow who just decided enough was enough. After fishing for 20 some years he decided he wasn’t going to work out west to pay for bills he created going fishing,” said Cole.
He said the industry is going to get worse before it gets better.
“I can see a day where the processors own all the boats and no one fishes for themselves. That’s unfortunately where I think it’s heading.”
With her children and husband onboard, Chancie sees this as a chance to have a little fun.
“The kids are young, we’re young. Why not try to make an adventure out of it and enjoy what’s next?”