Glut of lobster leads P.E.I. processors to set quota

Steve Sharratt
Published on June 1, 2015

Kenny Doyle and his brother Kelly loads traps ontio the boat Flying Spray at rthe wharf in North Rustico Friday. After eight days delay due to ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence te lobster season finally got underway just in time for the traditional Mothers Day lobster dinners.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

NORTH LAKE - A bonanza of lobster being landed in some areas of the province this spring has led processing plants to establish a daily limit on landings to help regulate the enormous flood of crustaceans.

The processors say they just can’t keep up either with the landings or enough workers so the temporary limit is to provide a balance in the flow of P.E.I.’s largest fishing industry.

“The landings so far are way, way, way up over last year,’’ says Jim Beales, general manager of Ocean Pride Fisheries in Elmira. “I’d estimate in our area it’s about a 20 per cent increase.”

As early as the first week of the delayed fishery, some boats in the East Point and Tignish regions were reporting landings of an estimated 3,000 pounds a day.

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The processing plants are requesting fishermen land no more than 1,000 pounds per day to cope with the onslaught.

“We had a processing line break down and we always experience a shift in the number of workers, so it’s all done to ensure an orderly flow,’’ said Beales.

“I don’t see it lasting forever, but right now we have little choice.”

Beales was quick to point out that while the northside is experiencing the huge landings, the south side is usually much slower before the lobsters turn up in force in the traps.

“We’re talking about two different regions essentially,’’ he said. “There are some big landings in some areas right now (the northside) and some plants, like ours, are trying to deal with it.”

Fishermen are obliging with the “trip limit” as a way to stop the glut in the processing plants and are hoping for a week extension when the season ends at the end of June.

So far, average prices range from $4.25 for canners to $4.75 for markets.

Last year 29 million pounds of lobster was landed and speculators predict higher landings in 2015.