DFO rejects rock crab plan to ease lobster bait shortage

The P.E.I. government has asked for the rock crab fishery to open early to help with a lobster bait shortage, but the request has been rejected by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

'Bait prices have gone up'

Opening the rock crab fishery could help lobster fishermen and provide an expanded market for rock crab, says P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson. (Shutterstock)

The P.E.I. government has asked for the rock crab fishery to open early to help with a lobster bait shortage, but the request has been rejected by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The province was thinking rock crab could be an alternative for lobster bait. There is a shortage of gaspereau that's used for bait because of the flooding in New Brunswick.

Provincial Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson said herring stock seems to be on the low side right now as well. The request to open the fishery early came from western Northumberland Strait fishermen.

"We're hearing from fishers that are saying that the bait prices have gone up and that they're having a little bit of a trouble in trying to access bait," said Henderson.

"We're just trying to be aware of the issue and try to lobby our federal counterparts to look at particular options."

Bait prices could be a cause for concern if they continue to rise, says Robert Henderson. (CBC)

Henderson said the rock crab fishery is a quota fishery so there wouldn't be an impact on how many are caught. Part of the reason DFO denied the request, he said, is because it said there wouldn't be enough staff who monitor landings at this time of year when other fisheries are happening.  

While there is some cause for concern if the shortage continues, said Henderson, there is no need to panic yet.

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With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan