PEI

P.E.I. snow crab industry figuring out how to protect endangered whales

Fisheries experts are on a tight timeline to figure out changes to the snow crab fishery to protect endangered right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence before the 2018 seasons starts.

DFO wants feedback from fishing groups in the next two to three weeks

Necropsies on some of the whales last year showed entanglement in fishing gear. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Fisheries experts are on a tight timeline to figure out changes to the snow crab fishery to protect endangered right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence before the 2018 seasons starts. 

The season opens in April — including 35 Island fishermen landing about $14 million dollars worth for the Island. 

At least 16 of the endangered North Atlantic right whales have been found dead off the East Coast of Canada and the U.S. this past summer. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) wants feedback from fishing groups in the next two to three weeks. 

Meeting in Moncton

Industry and DFO officials met in Moncton Wednesday to discuss possible solutions. One of the ideas was starting fishing earlier so fishermen could possibly reach their quota before whales arrive.

The snow crab season opens in April, including 35 Island fishermen landing about $14 million dollars worth for P.E.I.

"It really depends. There are a lot of factors. Ice plays a big role … It really depends on year to year," said Laura Ramsey, liaison officer with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association who was at the meeting. 

"It's very dependent on weather and that kind of stuff." 

Ramsey said another idea was to create a lost gear reporting and recovery system, so whales don't get caught up in abandoned gear.

Industry taking issue seriously

There were also discussions around how to change and standardize traps to reduce the amount of floating rope. 

"Everybody in that room was taking the issue very seriously … We all came to the table ready to discuss ideas and a lot of ideas were put out there," she said. 

"It really was a proactive meeting. I think everyone had the same focus." 

With files from Laura Chapin

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