The president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association says he’s confident Prince Edward Island’s spring lobster fisheries will have a one-millimetre increase in the minimum carapace length in 2018.
Francis Morrissey, who is also a member of the Lobster Fishery Area 24 Lobster Advisory Committee, was basing his optimism on the results of surveys the LFA 24 and LFA 26A Lobster Advisory Committees mailed out to their members this fall. Those results were recently posted on the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association website showing that 62 per cent of respondents in the eastern end of the province, LFA 26A are in favour of a one-mm increase in 2018 and another one-mm increase in 2020. Also 58 per cent of the LFA 24 respondents are in favour of a one-mm increase in the spring of 2018.
That would put the carapace measure to 73 mm.
The Island’s fall fishermen were fishing a 75-mm lobster this year and are scheduled to have a 77-mm minimum measure next year.
While the LFA 24 survey did not look past 2018, Morrissey said the advisory committee would be sending out a followup question next fall.
In LFA 26A, 234 out of 355 commercial lobster fishermen, 66 per cent, responded while LFA 24 had a 70.4 per cent response rate.
Morrissey said the decision to go with a size increase is the fishermen’s.
“We feel very strongly about this. These measures were voted on by the fishermen; we weren’t forced to do any of this. These are conservation measures that we, the fishermen in Area 24, are implementing without being told we have to do it by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.”
The survey results are not yet binding. Morrissey said the advisory councils have to discuss the results with the Native Council of P.E.I.
“We feel very certain that they will follow the same conservation measures for the betterment of the fishery,” he said.
If the Native Council and P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association Board of Directors are in agreement, the advisory committee would write and present a management plan to Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. Morrissey expects all those points will line up and the increase will be in force next spring.
Lobster Advisory Committee members in LFA 26A could not be reached for comment. A Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman indicated the department is aware that fishermen were being polled for their opinions but had not been advised of the results.