P.E.I. eel fishermen say they need a later start to the season to avoid finding dead eels in their nets. 

The problem is the water in the warm rivers is anoxic, the result of decaying sea lettuce stripping all the oxygen out of the water. 

"Eels get in the net and if the water where the net is goes anoxic, then they can't get out and they succumb," said Bruce Raymond of the Department of Environment. 

The issue is becoming an annual problem that fishermen want to avoid. 

"The first day, fellas on the river lost the whole catch, as far as four to 500 pounds on that day. It's way too much to be throwing away. You never gain that back," said L and C Fisheries president Calvin Jollimore. 

Meanwhile, fisherman Marvin Jollimore has pulled his eel nets until the water in the Wheatley River clears. 

'The water's too warm'

He said fishermen requested a two-week delay to start the season from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans so the anoxic conditions could clear from the rivers. 

"As the fall goes on, the water cools off, makes for better quality water which the eels will then live in," said Marvin. 

But DFO says they never received a formal request for the two-week delay, only the one-week delay. 

Marvin said fishermen plan to meet with DFO during the winter to have the season begin on Sept. 1. 

"DFO is supposed to be looking after the resource, and protecting it for us. And nobody wins when there's dead eels.  The water's too warm and it's a simple solution.  You move it."

Raymond said they are very few events of anoxia in September and normally none in October. 

"So if you were going on probability, certainly September would be better to avoid anoxia than in the summer," said Raymond.