Woman campaigns to end scallop fishery
Lobster fisherman Elaine Baglole is hoping Island fishermen will agree to end the scallop fishery to save the lobster fishery.
Baglole and her husband David have watched their lobster catches plummet over the last decade, from an average of 27,000 pounds per season to just 5,000 pounds.
She's sending out almost 1,300 letters this week to lobster fishermen across P.E.I.
Baglole is convinced that scallop draggers are destroying the bottom of the Northumberland Strait, leaving none of the rocky habitat that lobsters need to survive. She wants the federal Department of Fisheries to buy out all the scallop licences on P.E.I.
"We need help. The scallop fishermen say take them off and I'll be glad to go off, but if one boat goes out we all go out," she says.
Baglole says some lobster fishermen also have scallop licences, but they continue to fish for scallops because their lobster catches are down and they need the money.
Baglole says DFO already has research that documents the damage that draggers can do to lobster habitat.
"Drags are going on the bottom of the ocean and it's disrupting the lobsters," she says.
"Scallop fishermen are telling me that when they'd lift their drags up there would be smashed lobsters. And a scuba diver in Nova Scotia was saying that he was down there when the drag went through and he said, great big boulders, all smashed to pieces."
Sandra Gaudet, regional director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on P.E.I., says her department has helped to establish three areas where no scallop dragging is allowed, including a section of the strait west of the Confederation Bridge, but she doubts fishermen will support a total ban on fishing scallops.
"We also have to consider the perspective of the scallopers as well," says Gaudet.
Elaine Baglole is asking P.E.I. lobster fishermen to sign a letter opposing scallop dragging, which she will then present to the federal fisheries minister.