New conservation rules coming for P.E.I.'s North Shore lobster fishery
'It looks like fishermen are coming on side for conservation'
Fishermen on P.E.I.'s North Shore have voted to support three new conservation measures for their spring fishery, says the chair of the Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 24 Advisory Committee.
Starting in 2018, fishermen will throw back lobsters with a carapace less than 73 millimetres long — that's one millimetre larger than it has been.
They will also throw back smaller female lobsters, in an effort to increase egg production. Until now, fishermen could keep females over 129 millimetres — now, they can keep those only 115 millimetres or less.
"It looks like fishermen are coming on side for conservation," said David Lewis of Alberton, chair of the LFA 24 committee.
Should result in larger lobster
The third measure is the minimum number of traps that can be strung together now on a line will be six. Fishermen in some ports have moved to trap lines with only four or five traps in order to cover more ground with their allotted 300 traps, Lewis explained.
All the measures should result in more and larger lobsters in future years, Lewis said.
It's a big change, he noted. Last year, fishermen didn't support increasing the lobster carapace size, whereas this year's vote on that measure was 58 per cent in favour.
"It's a bit of a trend in the industry, and also [fishermen are] becoming more conservation-minded," Lewis said.
It's a bit of a trend in the industry/— David Lewis
Support for keeping only smaller female lobsters was less decisive, at only 51 per cent. "That just squeaked through," Lewis noted.
These decisions were made from a survey mailed out to the 600 LFA 24 fishermen — about 70 per cent responded.
In LFA 26, the other spring lobster fishery which takes in the waters from East Point to Victoria, P.E.I., fishermen will "take a break" from changes in 2018 but have plans to raise minimum carapace size the following year, Lewis said.
The federal government mandated a change for fishermen in the P.E.I. fall fishery, LFA 25 — increasing minimum carapace size from 72 to 77 millimetres over the course of three years, ending in 2018.
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With files from Laura Chapin