Low prices, small catches hurting eastern shore lobster fishermen
While lobster fishermen on P.E.I.'s North Shore complain about strict quotas they say are limiting what could otherwise be a bountiful haul to a mere 500 pounds a day, those fishing on the east end of the Island say they can only dream of catching that much.
Lobster prices are the lowest they have been in decades, and as a result, some buyers have said they will purchase no more than 500 pounds (227 kg) a day from the North Shore fishermen.
At Graham's Pond on the east coast, where a good day's catch might be one-fifth that, some fishermen have decided it is not even worth untying their boats.
"It's to the point today where it's not worth going out," said Barry Creed, who has fished out of Graham's Pond for 38 years. "One hundred pounds here is a big day. That's going to do no good for anybody."
Creed's son, Brody, has been fishing lobster for six years.
"You're losing money," he said. "Like if you want to exercise, you know, you'll go to a gym. I won't go out and haul 300 traps for nothing."
Fishermen at Graham's Pond don't want to pick a fight with those on the North Shore. They know they're struggling with prices as low as $2.75 a pound ($6.05 a kg) as well, but they say it is hard to hear them complain about 500-pound hauls.
Creed believes overfishing is to blame for the problems with lobster stocks in the Northumberland Strait. Other factors raised over the years have included scalloping, which can disrupt the sea floor, and pollution.
More applying for peddler's licences
With the quotas and prices so low, the province is reporting that more lobster fishermen are moving to take matters into their own hands.
Before the season started, about 30 people had applied for the newly created peddler's licences, which allow lobster to be sold directly, and applications are still coming in.
"Twelve in the last couple of days," said Lloyd Murphy of the provincial fisheries department.
"They're just weighing their options, whether a buyer will buy their lobster or what do they do with the excess."
So far, 30 fishermen have peddler's licences and 15 licences have also been issued to other individuals.