O’LEARY, P.E.I. - Prince County Fishermen’s Association (PCFA) members want lobster advisory committees to create a long-term plan for a uniform lobster carapace measure.
Monday, Howard’s Cove fisherman Jim Cooke called for a resolution to make the request at next month’s P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association annual meeting.
Cooke made the request during the PCFA’s annual meeting at O’Leary Legion. There were about 115 fall lobster fishermen in attendance.
The resolution was on of three the local association wants the PEIFA to vote on at its annual meeting.
Shelton Barlow, another Howard’s Cove fisherman, received unanimous support for two resolutions: that the PEIFA fight for stronger fines for illegal fishing activities, especially for repeat offenders; and that the PEIFA press for more Department of Fisheries and Oceans manpower in western P.E.I.
The provincial group still has to decide what resolutions will make it to the floor of the annual meeting.
Lobster carapace remains a sore point with the Island’s fall fishermen who have seen their measure increase by three millimetres in two years without any movement for fishermen in the two spring districts around P.E.I.
Spring fishermen in LFAs 24 and 26A have voted in favour of a 1-mm increase this year, but the measure is scheduled to increase another 2 mm for fall fishermen.
Cooke argued fall lobster fishermen are not adequately protected.
“We can protect them in our district and in our season, and after that it’s free game. We went through this before, Bobby. Nine years it took to get it squared away.”
“We throw them over; we can protect them in our district and in our season, and after that it’s free game,” he said in expressing his frustration to Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey during the meeting.
“We went through this before, Bobby. Nine years it took to get it squared away,” Cooke said, referencing a size difference that existed between the fall and spring districts in the 1990s.
Cooke also challenged PEIFA president Bobby Jenkins on the provincial board’s ability to adequately represent the fall fishery on the carapace issue, and provincial Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac for not pressing the spring fisheries to catch up.
“We can’t stop what the feds are doing, because of the lobby in New Brunswick, but we’re acting, very, very strongly on the lead of yourselves and the PEIFA,” said McIsaac.
He pointed out those districts are moving up this spring. They might pause after that, he said, or, based on the increased landings in LFA 25, they might decide to keep going.
Past PCFA president Danny Arsenault waded into the fray, complaining that DFO does not pay as much attention to enforcing the North Cape line during the spring lobster fishery as it does during the fall fishery. Despite his concern, Arsenault opposed Cooke’s resolution.
“We have no right to tell the other areas what to do, and that’s what they’re going to tell us when this goes to them,” said Arsenault.
PCFA president Lee Knox said his association had sought a slowdown in the carapace increase schedule from federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. Knox said LeBlanc gave no promises, but indicated he would consider the request if the spring districts put their measure up.
The PCFA, meanwhile, is awaiting survey results from its members on the carapace issue before sending a follow-up request to DFO.