Lobster fishery changes 'a real battle'
Throwing back more lobsters called bad for P.E.I. industry
Prince Edward Island is getting an early start in lobbying against a plan that would see the minimum size for legally-caught lobsters increased.
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley hopes to get ahead of any changes he says would hurt the lobster fishing industry.
"We're facing a real battle here I can see shaping up," said MacKinley
The legal carapace size will increase by one millimetre to 72 in 2013, and there is now a lobby from processors and some fishermen in New Brunswick to increase it even more. How much more hasn't been decided by the groups, but one proposal suggests 74 mm in 2013 and 77 mm in 2014. The idea is to allow breeding lobsters to stay in the water longer, conserving the stock.
Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, said there is also a commercial consideration. In recent years, New Brunswick has not been finding markets for the smaller lobsters.
"Where their market for the smaller lobsters is maybe not as strong, or is declining a bit, we're not seeing that on P.E.I.," said MacPherson.
"So we are taking a different position and looking at it as two different business cases."
MacKinley is urging acting Federal Minister of Fisheries Gail Shea not to make any changes. He said there are ways of dealing with the different requirements of the two provinces that don't involve legislation.
"New Brunswick can catch the size that you want by putting bigger escape mechanisms on their traps, but we don't want it to become law," he said.
DFO was not available for comment.