A seafood industry consultant who told P.E.I. lobster fishermen three years ago that increasing the minimum size would be a disaster for the Island industry says he's changed his mind.
Seafood.com publisher John Sackton says the market has changed since 2010, when he warned against P.E.I. raising the minimum size any further. Sackton said now, with fall landings in the Northumberland Strait at a record high and prices down around $3 a pound, he thinks increasing the minimum size one or two millimetres is smart.
"I think that it's important to take steps to experiment with things that will increase the value," he said.
"One of the things that I think will increase the value is taking some measures to reduce the pounds landed."
Island fishermen have been at odds with New Brunswick fishermen recently, who have been proposing increasing the minimum size for legally caught lobster by five millimeters to 77 millimeters over the next three years.
P.E.I. fishermen catch more lobster on the small end of the scale than New Brunswick does, and estimate landings on the Island would fall between seven and 13 per cent with a size increase.
Sackton believes the New Brunswick proposal is too radical, but thinks a one or two millimetre increase would help business. Smaller landings, he said, would be offset by a higher price.
P.E.I. processors, however, say larger lobster would mean the loss of niche markets, such as casinos, buffets and cruise ships.
"They'll move to crab sections, they'll move to shrimp, they'll move to other species," said Jeff Malloy, CEO of the Acadian Fishermen's Coop.
"Now they can have a lower price because of the size and still say they have lobster on the menu."
Sackton said a small increase in size would mean lobsters under a pound in weight would still be available, which these customers would buy at a higher price.