Lobster catch sizes vary depending on area fished

The fall lobster fishery opened this week, and fishermen say the catch this year depends on which fishing port they use.

Fishermen won't know price of catch until next week

The fall lobster fishery opened this week, and fishermen say the catch this year depends on which fishing port they use.

In Western P.E.I., they say they're pulling in more lobster than last year, but farther east, the catch is down.

And the price is still a mystery.

East of the Confederation Bridge, fishermen didn't want to talk about their landings.

But they did say lobster there has been on the decline for the last decade, and things are no different this season.

But, up west, some fishermen say they're catching about a pound per trap more than last year.

"This is only the third day, so it's hard to tell what's going to happen. But from the outlook, from the start, it would be up a little bit from last year. But last year was down from the year before, so it's probably on par with that year," Danny Arsenault, a fisherman in Tignish, said.

Because the catch is up, fishermen in some parts of Western P.E.I. yesterday fished on a quota – 1,200 pounds per boat.

Some fishermen are already selling their catch to tourists, who are willing to pay $5 per pound.

But prices at the plant are expected to be much lower.

Fishermen, processors and government officials have been talking about how to help the industry. One of the options —compensation for fishermen.

"In the past the province has come and assisted. There are various ways they can assist fishers maybe with low interest or things like that," said Ian MacPherson, executive director of the PEI Fishermen's Association.

"There's a number of options tossed around, nothing's been decided yet. But the best thing, if we get a half decent price those type of things won't need to be looked at."

Last week fishermen weren't so optimistic.

They threatened to block trucks carrying Maine lobster to a processing plant, saying imported lobster is driving down prices on the Island.

Fishermen in New Brunswick did block trucks.

The association says the fix will be co-operation.

"I'm big on made-in-P.E.I. solutions.  I think if we can work together, it's a win-win for everyone," MacPherson said.

"We want the harvester jobs kept, we want the processor jobs kept, so it's time to sit down and really look at some hard options here and make our industry better."

Fishermen should know in about a week exactly what they'll get for their lobster.

The fall season ends Oct. 13. When it's over, fishermen will meet to talk about how to improve prices next year.