Lobster glut leads to quotas amid low prices

Many P.E.I. lobster fishermen now face daily quotas on their catches because the processors say they're being overwhelmed by large catches.

Prices remain low as boats return to the water

Many P.E.I. lobster fishermen face daily quotas on their catches because the processors say they’re being overwhelmed by large catches.

The quotas, which started over the weekend, range between 500 to 1,000 pounds per boat. It’s adding to boiling frustrations after low prices sparked protests last week.

"It’s tough," said Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Assocation. He said fishermen can’t find extra buyers for the overage. "Right now, you just have to slow down your fishing. Fish less traps."

In Abrams Village, the Acadian Fisheries Co-op has been processing lobster steadily.

"I certainly believe that as soon as the plants are able to handle more volume, they will allow the fishermen to bring in more," said Jeff Malloy, a spokesperson for PEI processors.

"The last number of years, there certainly has been less capacity in the industry, especially here on P.E.I. with plant closures and such."

Craig Avery, president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association, said some fishermen will have to sell their catch directly to the public.

"There’s been quite a glut, you know, the catches are phenomenal in a lot of places where there haven’t been lobsters other years," he said. "We just haven’t got the capacity in our plants to be able to process and package everything that’s coming in."

It’s not known how long the quotas will stay in place.

The Maritime fisheries ministers met last week and agreed to start an independent panel to look at the factors affecting lobster prices in the region.