PEI

P.E.I. fishermen to vote on lobster season delay, choosing between 2 dates

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association is taking a vote among its members on whether to delay the opening of lobster season to either May 6 or May 13.

'Frustration is probably the biggest thing ... hopefully this will take a little bit away'

The vote to delay is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated health risks. (Brian McInnis)

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association is taking a vote among its members on whether to delay the opening of lobster season to either May 6 or May 13. 

The usual start date would be Apr. 30.

The decision to hold the vote came at a telephone meeting of board members Friday.

"I think frustration is probably the biggest thing, frustration and anxiety of people," said executive director Ian MacPherson. "Hopefully this will take a little bit away."

Voting will be conducted online and by telephone starting Friday, according to MacPherson. Results could be available Tuesday, at which point the association would forward the request for a delay to the federal fisheries minister.

The vote to delay is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated health risks. The fishermen's association also said it is talking to the federal government about a possible compensation package to fishermen for possible lost income.  

Safety protocols are being rolled out, according to MacPherson. Protective equipment and maintaining personal distance will be among the measures on boats, as well as minimizing contact on the wharf, he said.

"There's going to be a lot of measures put in place to keep everybody healthy, not just our captains and crew, we want people on the wharfs, we want our communities and families to stay healthy too."   

Fishermen around the Island hold varying opinions on start dates, and lingering doubts about prices and world markets for the catch.

A survey conducted last week by the association showed a majority of its members favoured a delay to the start of the season.

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