Lobster fishermen on P.E.I. are disappointed monitoring of their catch this year will be on paper, rather than electronic.
'Determining trends in the stock will require between three to five years.' - Krista Petersen
This year, for the first time, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is requiring fishermen to record their daily catches. DFO says it's part of the process of moving towards a sustainable fishery certification.
P.E.I. Fishermen's Association executive director Ian MacPherson told CBC News the log books are a step in the right direction, but fishermen would have preferred to wait a year for computerized records.
"Our preference as harvesters would have been to go directly to an electronic system," said MacPherson.
"DFO isn't going to have that system ready to go, so we are apparently going to be on a paper log system for just one year. But the electronic system would be the preferable way to go."
The department has made filling out the log books a condition of lobster licences this year. Fishermen will mail the log sheets, which also will include bycatch information, to DFO. But MacPherson wonders how DFO is going to enter the data in a timely fashion, given cutbacks in staff.
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for DFO said it is important to start the data collection early for its sustainable fisheries framework.
"While some of the data will provide immediate information on fishing effort, determining trends in the stock will require between three to five years' worth of information," wrote Krista Petersen.
"Not going ahead with paper logbooks at this stage would delay the collection of this important information."
Petersen said the department has the staff needed to enter the data.
Other major fisheries in the region are already required to fill out log books of their catches.