Prince Edward Island fishermen sweep for ‘ghost traps’

Eric McCarthy
Published on July 7, 2014

Jordan Lewis, left, and David Lewis display the ghost traps they found Friday during a sweep of north side lobster fishing grounds. Thirteen fishing boats from Sea Cow Pond to French River assisted three fisheries patrol crews in the sweep, helping to find about 30 traps. The lobster in the traps were liberated.

©Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

NORTHPORT — David and Jordan Lewis estimate they hauled a catch of about 30 pounds of lobster somewhere off Northport Friday morning.

They couldn’t keep the catch, though, as the season in lobster fishing Area 24 closed June 30.

Lobster fishermen from at least a half-dozen northside fishing ports spent Friday morning grappling for gear left behind once the season closed.

Gear left in the water after a season ends continues to “ghost fish,” and the lobster that find their way in cannot escape, at least not until the biodegradable panels in the traps give way. David Lewis, a co-chairman of the lobster advisory committee for LFA 24, suggested it could be August before the cotton twine stitched into the mesh lets go. That, he said, would be too late for the lobsters found in traps Friday. Most of the bait was already gone. Lobsters would eventually turn on each other in their struggle to survive, he explained.

“It’s great to see fishermen looking after their own resource,” Lewis assessed.

Officers in three fisheries patrol vessels accompanied the 13 lobster boats during the exercise. From what he could gather, fishermen from all ports participating in the cleanup found some gear. The traps he found were tagged and there was a buoy line and buoy attached, leaving him to speculate the traps were not deliberately left behind but were lost.