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P.E.I. fishermen prepare for setting day with hopes of high prices and no right whale sightings

NORTH RUSTICO, P.E.I. - Wade Gallant will be marking his 45th year fishing lobster when he sails his boat, French Connection IV, out of the harbor on Monday.

“And I’m just as excited as I was the first year. So, I’m not ready to retire just yet,” said the long-time fisherman while preparing traps with his son, Shawn, on Sunday.

“It’s great altogether. We get along great in the boat, (it’s) a lot of quality time, and we work together well.”

The two were among the many fishermen in North Rustico – and in many ports around the Island – baiting traps and making the final preparations for P.E.I.’s setting day Monday.

“It’s that time of year, there’s lots of life around the community and people around,” said Shawn, who has been working with his dad for more than 15 years.

Apart from fishermen, Sunday also saw some residents going down to the wharf to take a peak despite the rainy weather. Some were taking pictures while others were offering to prepare food for fishermen once they sail back in Monday.

Fisherman Chris Misener was also in North Rustico preparing the Sneak Preview, which usually fishes out of Covehead.

However, he said a lack of dredging has left the area too shallow to start out this year in Covehead.

“This boat draws quite a bit more water than a lot of them, it’s a little deeper of a keel… so we came up here, we couldn’t get in there this morning,” said Misener. “It’s a worry we don’t need to have… If it was dredged, it would be fine, it wouldn’t be an issue. It’s been free (of ice) for weeks now, and they just started.”

Despite the challenges, Misener noted it felt good to be back out preparing for another season

“You wait for it all year,” he said. “It will be nice when the gear is all in the water and you can actually start fishing. It’s a little stressful… getting the gear off and the weather and wondering what prices are going to be.”

While prices are still unknown, fishermen are hoping they will be similar to last year.

“We had an unprecedented price last year… it would be nice if it was the same,” said Shawn.

Another concern weighing on some fishermen’s minds throughout the region is the possibility of right whales, with the federal government announcing last week new rules for lobster fishermen that would see areas restricted for a minimum of 15 days if a right whale is spotted.

Fishermen in North Rustico have their fingers crossed that the whales will remain out of sight and out of mind this season.

Misener noted that with the whales usually arriving a little later in the year, he hoped they would stay around the Magdalen Islands.

Shawn said fishermen also have concerns over the safety of the whales.

“But, it’s also our livelihood we’re concerned about,” he said. “Hopefully, we just don’t see any, we haven’t seen any here ever.”

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