A new plan to allow P.E.I. and Nova Scotia fishermen to hold more than one lobster licence will reduce the number of traps in the water, and provide a better living for fishermen, says federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

Shea made the announcement in a news release overnight Wednesday.


Stacking of lobster licences will mean fewer lobster traps in Prince Edward Island waters.

The new rules will allow fishermen on the North Shore of P.E.I. and the Northumberland Strait between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. to buy another lobster fishermen's licence out.  The one boat would be allowed to fish two licences, which is known as stacking. Some of the traps from the second licence, up to 50 per cent the news release said, would have to be retired.

Lobster prices have been down in recent years, and Shea told CBC News in Cape Breton Thursday this will allow fewer fishermen to catch more lobster, and that will make it easier for everyone to make a living. The idea came from within the industry, she said.

"These groups went out and came up with their own plan, brought their plans forward to DFO for review, and so we've approved a couple of them," she said.

Craig Avery, president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association, said the change will help not only those who remain in the industry, but those who want out of it.

"These changes will allow our aging fishermen the opportunity to retire with fair compensation for their fleets and will help those fishing enterprises that remain to become more viable by being able to fish more traps," said Avery.

Stacking will start with the next spring's lobster fishery.

Shea said she expects more recommendations from industry to be approved in the coming months.