Maritime fishermen seeking larger share of halibut

Maritime fishermen are lobbying for an increased share of halibut quota, arguing it's not fair Quebec's share is dozens of times larger than what they are allowed to catch.
Halibut is selling for a good price, says Mike McGeoghegan. (CBC)

Maritime fishermen are lobbying for an increased share of halibut quota, arguing it's not fair Quebec's share is dozens of times larger than what they are allowed to catch.

P.E.I. has 890 fishermen licensed for halibut and just 1.46 per cent of the quota. In the Scotia-Fundy region, 400 fishermen will split about two per cent of the future halibut quota.

Quebec's 810 fishermen have 57.7 per cent of the quota.

"It would put fishermen back to work in that fishery and it would bring prosperity to Prince Edward Island," Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"Any time you have more quota, it's more money. So that's what we're looking at. It is frustrating for us."

Four fishermen from Cape Breton travelled to Ottawa on Tuesday to demand a meeting with Keith Ashfield, the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

A group of fishermen had been protesting outside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in Westmount, N.S., for two weeks but were unable to secure a meeting with Ashfield.

"It's very, very bad when the public can't meet with our elected officials on an issue of this magnitude," said Robert Courtney, a member of the North of Smokey-Inverness South Fishermen's Association.

"As far as we're concerned this isn't just about the fishery, this is a slap against Cape Breton."

P.E.I. fishermen are making a presentation before an independent review board operated by Ernst and Young next month. McGeoghegan is hoping the board will agree the current allocations are not fair.

He noted halibut is currently selling for a good price.