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Lobster carapace size increase remains a concern at some P.E.I. ports

Ryan Costain, crewmember of the Miminegash Maiden, lifts a pan of just-caught lobsters onto the dock at Miminegash.
Ryan Costain, crewmember of the Miminegash Maiden, lifts a pan of just-caught lobsters onto the dock at Miminegash. - Eric McCarthy

MIMINEGASH, P.E.I. - Miminegash lobster fishermen are claiming to be negatively impacted by the two-millimetre carapace increase imposed this year.

One fisherman, loading up with bait for the next day’s fishing, said Wednesday he is throwing back a lot of lobsters that are just under the minimum length.

Lobster Fishing Area 25 fishermen are adjusting to a third carapace increase in three years. The minimum measure was 72 mm until 2015. This year fishermen have to throw back all lobster under 77 mm.

Shane Costain, captain of the Miminegash Maiden, said his catch took a big dip on Tuesday. He said a lot of lobsters he is throwing back would have been legal size if not for this year’s increase.

“The measure is hitting us hard,” he insisted.

The size increase was expected to hit the northernmost ports, Miminegash to Tignish, the hardest.

Catches on the P.E.I. side of the Northumberland Strait are being described as good by one buyer. Robert Arsenault admitted it’s not the case in all parts of the district, but he suggested overall, landings are up during the same period last year.

“Some places are up and some places are down,” said the owner of Arsenault’s Fish Mart.

He wouldn’t disclose what parts of the district are up and where the landings are down, but suggested, generally, the season is off to a good start.

The fall season opened Aug. 9 for 711 Northumberland Strait lobster fishermen, including 225 from western P.E.I.

Arsenault said the most talked-about shore price starting out is $4.50 a pound for canners and $5 a pound for markets.

“That’s what the price was last week,” he said.

The president of Tignish Fisheries Royal Star Foods, Francis Morrissey, did not share information on landings or prices, but had praise for the fishermen, indicating they are putting a quality product on the scales. He said the fishermen “are doing an excellent job of caring for their catch.”

He said fishermen are heeding recommendations on handling the product, keeping their lobster cool and installing canopies to keep them out of the sun.

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