Setting day conditions worst ever seen, says fishermen

P.E.I. fishermen say Fisheries and Oceans should have delayed setting day until Monday

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on August 9, 2014

Joshua Clements digs into a bait box as he helps his father, David, get traps ready for a second load on setting day morning Friday at Howard’s Cove in western Prince Edward Island.

©JOURNAL PIONEER/Eric McCarthy

CAPE WOLFE - Back in port safe and sound Friday afternoon, Tignish fisherman Danny Arsenault had a simple assessment of lobster setting day 2014.

“It didn’t make any sense to do this at all.”

Some boats cut back on their loads and made an extra trip to get their gear all set.

Arsenault said he was one of the fishermen on a conference call Thursday pleading to have the fall season delayed until Monday. Also on the call were port representatives from harbours all around Lobster Fishing Area 25 in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials.

He said representatives from northern ports in both provinces stressed during the call that their region would take the brunt of the wind, which was expected to blow through the district on setting day.

As it turns out, the wind did blow, about 31 knots at North Cape around noon time Friday, and fishermen had to contend with rough seas.

Arsenault said he heard reports of fishermen losing traps as they rounded North Cape and also in the Skinners Pond area.

Howard’s Cove fisherman Shelton Barlow said there are four boats in his port who still have gear on board to set. He described conditions as the worst he’s ever faced on setting day and lamented the decision to leave setting day on Friday was based, in part on an Environment Canada forecast for wind much lighter than what the Northumberland Strait encountered.

“They made a bad call on this one, and they know it,” Arsenault said of DFO’s ultimate decision to leave setting day as scheduled.

He acknowledged that several southern ports in both provinces indicated during the call that they wanted to set Friday, but he insisted some of the fishermen on the call represented just a few boats. He insisted there are more fishermen in the northern part of the district than in the south.

While fishermen would normally fish at least some of their gear on setting day, Arsenault said most were content just to get the traps set this year.

“It was a bad day,” he said.