PEI

2 different start dates being recommended for 2 P.E.I. lobster fishing areas

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association will recommend to Fisheries and Oceans Canada two different start dates for the spring lobster season for two regions around Prince Edward Island.

'It is not going to be one thing ... to solve it for everyone'

The PEIFA will recommend a May 6 start for LFA 24 and a May 13 start for LFA 26A for the 2020 spring lobster fishing season. (John Robertson/CBC)

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association will recommend to Fisheries and Oceans Canada two different start dates for the spring lobster season for two regions around Prince Edward Island.

The PEIFA released results Tuesday from its member vote held over the weekend. Members were asked whether they preferred the season start on May 6 or May 13.

Voting began on Friday and wrapped up at noon on Monday. A total of 841 votes were tallied out of the eligible 954 spring lobster licence holders.

The PEIFA reported results in each of the two fishing areas, LFA 24 and LFA 26A. For LFA 24, 60.9 per cent voted in favour of the May 6 start.

In LFA 26A, 51.2 per cent of voting members chose the May 13 start date.

PEIFA executive director Ian MacPherson says there is still a lot of work to do before the start of the spring lobster fishing season, whenever the date may be. (John Robertson/CBC)

Ian MacPherson, executive director with the PEIFA, said it showed the variances between the two areas.

"It's not people just picking dates here and seeing what sticks," MacPherson said. "It's related to ... their local situation with their buyer and the plant that they sell to, and we have 40 per cent of our spring product goes off-Island."

The PEIFA will formally recommend the two separate start dates. The federal minister will have the final say as to when the spring lobster season begins in all regions.

Out of 954 eligible voters, a total of 841 PEIFA members voted. (John Robertson/CBC)

MacPherson said he expects that decision to come quickly.

"We hope that there is a real definitive decision here in the next day or so from the minister's office," he said.

"We have every indication that the minister is processing these requests very quickly and then people can make preparations ... volumes, price, markets — all those kinds of things, those are still big picture issues that are being discussed."

The PEIFA is still working with Health PEI on guidelines for the fishermen and fish processing plants to ensure the health and safety of the workers and crews.

MacPherson said they are trying to get decisions made to provide some stability in an unpredictable year.

"I think irrespective there's anxiety ... throughout the whole season and it is not going to be one thing ... to solve it for everyone and then we're into smooth sailing so to speak," he said. 

"Still lots of challenges out there for sure."

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With files from Brian Higgins

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