It's setting day for P.E.I.'s lobster fishery after 2-week delay
Public being asked to stay away from wharfs to prevent transmission of COVID-19
Lobster fishermen set their traps from ports around Prince Edward Island Friday morning, after a two-week delay to the spring fishery.
The spring fishery on P.E.I.'s North Shore and the eastern Northumberland Strait was delayed partly because some lobster processing plants in the region were not ready to open due to staffing issues.
Many of the plants rely in part on temporary foreign workers, which posed a problem since P.E.I.'s borders are closed to all but permanent residents. A plan was devised and they began to arrive at the end of April, but required two weeks in quarantine before heading to work.
The fishing industry also needed more time to establish new COVID-19 safety protocols in plants, on wharfs and on boats.
It will be a season like no other for fishermen: they'll be asked questions about their health daily, are not allowed to share equipment and must wear gloves at all times. They're required to thoroughly clean frequently-touched surfaces on board vessels, and to maintain a physical distance of two metres when possible.
Harbour authorities are asking the public to stay away from the wharves to allow fishermen and buyers to do their work in a safe environment. As members of the media, CBC received permission to take photos and video of the start of the season from a distance.
'Buy Canadian lobster,' urges PM
Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged consumers to "buy Canadian" to support fishermen and processors.
"Have a fish fry, or buy Canadian lobster," Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. "Not only will it taste great, it will help the people who keep food on our plates."
The federal government also pledged $470 million for the fisheries sector, including $268 million to cover 75 per cent of the losses for fishermen, as well as a new $201.8-million non-repayable grant program to pay up to $10,000 to fish harvesters who own their own businesses. The size of the grants will depend on the fish harvesters' historic revenue, said the Prime Minister's Office.
The support is something P.E.I. Premier Dennis King has been asking for.
With the closure of restaurants and docking of cruise ships the last two months, demand for lobster has crashed.
The spring lobster fishery is scheduled to end June 30.