The havoc played on sealers and fishermen by ice off Newfoundland and Labrador's northeast coast has the province looking to Ottawa for help with employment insurance.

Pack ice kept many sealers from getting their quota β€” trapping many of them on their way home late last month β€”and is nowkeeping many crab and shrimp fishermen in port.

Somepeople who had beencounting on income fromeither sealing or fishing are now coming to theend of their EI benefits.

"It's perhaps another week or so before people begin to actually run out and if people are running on a second claim, it might be in June. So all of these matters are in hand and are in front of federal officials," said the province's Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout.

Rideout is in talks with Ottawa about extending the EI program. But he hasn't heard back, yet.

"EI hasn't been extended for a number of years, as I understand it. The last time this was done and we had circumstances similar to this, a special program was put in place and I believe the payments actually came out of DFO. So it's my understanding that a similar program is being looked at," he said.

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said earlier this monththat meetings were underway between officials fromdifferent departments that would need to be involved if any special help becomes necessary.

He said the last time assistance was needed due to ice was in 1991.

Meanwhile, people in the fishing communities are hoping more favourable winds put an end to all that ice.

With files from the Canadian Press