P.E.I. fishermen aren't happy with the lobster size increase
Lobster carapace size will increase five millimetres over three years
A decision to increase the lobster carapace size for Lobster Fishing Area 25 has upset the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans issued a notice to fishermen Friday informing them of the change.
PEIFA executive director Ian MacPherson said he doesn't believe the science supports a carapace increase.
"Island fishermen just can't see the value in having less choice for the consumer and having more lobster competing in certain size categories for price," said MacPherson.
The carapace size, which is the size a lobster can be legally caught for sale, will increase by one millimetre in the 2016 fall fishery from to 73 from 72 millimetres.
In 2017, it will increase to 75 millimetres and by 2018, it will go up to 77 millimetres.
Notice issued Friday
In the notice, DFO states the decision comes after numerous consultation meetings with First Nations, aboriginal organizations, industry, provincial governments and processors in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia over the last several years.
"Increasing the carapace size will have conservation benefits in LFA 25 by allowing more female lobsters to reproduce. Furthermore, this gradual increase over three years will allow harvesters and markets to adjust to the change in carapace size," the notice said.
MacPherson said the association plans to meet with DFO and Minister Hunter Tootoo.
"History shows us that in certain areas there have been some pretty significant decreases in catches in the year that it goes up in carapace size. So there is obviously a real concern that we could see a significant reduction in catches in certain areas," said MacPherson.
"Half of the plants on Prince Edward Island rely on the smaller lobster as a large part of their marketing efforts. They have been marketing to different parts of the world that want that smaller lobster so, you know, this is a real disappointment."
LFA 25 covers parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
DFO said there are 721 licences fishing in that zone of the Gulf of St. Lawrence — 16 from Nova Scotia, 225 from P.E.I. and 470 from New Brunswick.
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With files from Angela Walker