Forecasts of windy weather will delay the start of the lobster season on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island and computer bureaucracy will delay licensing compliance, says the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association.
The spring lobster season in the Northumberland Strait will open as planned on Wednesday, April 30 but North Shore fishermen will have to wait until May 1.
In the past, the first day was reserved for setting traps only, but in recent years regulations allow fishermen to haul in the first harvest on the same day the traps are set.
The opening day schedule was developed with telephone conference calls through the weekend and Monday with harbour representatives of the association and staff of Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Strong-wind warnings from the northeast are in effect for Tuesday, April 29 for all marine areas around P.E.I., with winds dropping in the Gulf-Magdalen region only by Wednesday afteroon.
“It’s always safety first, that’s the main thing for us, to make sure it’s safe for the fishermen because the boats are loaded when they leave,” said Mike McGeoghegan, president of the association.
There are 385 lobster boats on the P.E.I. side of the Northumberland Strait zone known as 26A and 660 lobster boats on the North Shore in zone 24, he said.
“We are hoping for a good price this year. It’s pretty good on the mainland right now,” said McGeoghegan.
What is not so good is the new online lobster licence renewal system.
It used to be renewed by mail or with a personal visit to a regional licensing office, but this year it must be done online, he said.
All lobster fishermen received mail with a personal access code included.
Many didn’t realize the importance of the letters they got in the mail and mistakenly threw out the code, he said.
“If you don’t have the code, you don’t get the licence,” said McGeoghegan.
“Right now if you make two mistakes on the program it will shut you down for 24 hours,” he said.
“We can’t seem to get the coordination between Moncton and our office, in order to get the paperwork for the fishermen,” he said.
“I hope we can get this all settled before the season starts,” said McGeoghegan. “It should have been phased in over a three-year period.”