Changes to P.E.I. lobster fishery coming too fast, association advises

Lobster fishermen from Prince County are concerned changes to carapace sizes for allowable catches are moving too fast, and told a standing committee things need to slow down to see what the effect will be on their industry.

Prince County fishermen want carapace size increases slowed down from 3 to 5 years

A one-millimetre change in carapace size will be followed with two-millimetre increases next year and in 2018. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Lobster fishermen from western P.E.I. are concerned about a change to the minimum size of lobster they can catch.

The Prince County Fishermen's Association brought the issue to a meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Tuesday in Charlottetown.

The change takes effect on Aug. 9, when the fall lobster fishery opens.

The one-millimetre change in carapace size will be followed with two-millimetre increases next year and in 2018.

President of the Prince County Fishermen's Association, Lee Knox, appears before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Agriculture. (CBC)
Members of the association want the changes slowed down to one millimetre a year and spread out over five years, according to their president, Lee Knox.

And if too many fishermen are being hurt by the changes, they want them stopped.

"Slow it down," advised Knox. "We'd like the minister of fisheries to also revisit this halfway through to see if it's a good thing for the fishermen. If it's a good thing for the fishermen, catches are improving, that's great. I'm personally hoping that we're wrong, that we're not going to drop, that we go ahead."

Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, a member of the standing committee, agreed with the Prince County fishermen that the change to the lobster size needs to be slowed down.

"Given that they have a much larger proportion of their catch which is canners — as we know them here, smaller lobster — and it's going to impact their catches in the short term quite dramatically, I'm not so concerned about long term," said Bevan-Baker. "But the speed with which it's being done, I think is unnecessarily hasty. And I think we should question that."

The standing committee has invited the federal minister of fisheries to appear before them to address the issue.


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