P.E.I. Fishermen's Association seeks better prices, more quotas

A full 62-day lobster season and increased quotas were a few of the topics discussed at the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association annual general meeting.

PEIFA passes resolution for full lobster fishing season even if start is delayed due to bad weather

The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association wants a full 62-day lobster fishing season, even if poor weather delays its start. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Better prices and increased quotas were a few of the topics discussed at the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association annual general meeting.

The two day meeting held in Charlottetown featured speakers on seafood marketing, ongoing tuna and halibut research, and a report on lobster prices.

P.E.I. Fishermen's Association vice-president Bobby Jenkins. (CBC)

"Fishermen expect a better price due to the low Canadian dollar this year, that always helps us, but it's about supply and demand, hopefully looking forward to this spring for more money than we got last year," said Bobby Jenkins, PEIFA vice president.

Jenkins said increasing quotas remains a priority for this year.  

"We're always looking to get a little more quota for tuna, for our 352 licence holders on P.E.I., and the groundfish committee is working on a new plan for groundfish this year so it's pretty busy," said Jenkins.

More quotas wanted

PEIFA president Craig Avery said the biggest issue in regard to the quotas for the fin fisheries like halibut and tuna is they are always looking for more quota.

"[There's] lots of fish here, all kinds of fishermen and good equipment and no fish to catch," said Avery.

P.E.I. Fishermen's Association president Craig Avery. (CBC)

While finding people to work in the fishery has been an issue for the last few years, Avery says things are looking better for the upcoming season with an influx of people coming back from the western provinces. 

"Things shutting down with the oil industry has kind of opened up some crew for us, so I'm hoping this year that's not going to be a problem but at the same time I'm really happy we moved forward with the crew recruitment project so there's people to replace people again as they're getting out of the industry," said Avery.  

There were several resolutions passed by the membership at the annual general meeting.

Push for full fishing season

They include lobbying the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to have more staff on the Island. 

Another is to push for a full fishing season, regardless of the start date set by the federal government. If the season starts late because of bad weather, fishermen would still have a full 62 days out on the water.  

The association plans to ask the provincial government to establish a deputy minister position to deal only with Island fisheries.

The province has one minister responsible for fish and wildlife under the Department of Community, Lands and Environment.

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