PCFA president says protocol not followed at lobster meeting

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- The president of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association says he can’t blame lobster fishermen in New Brunswick for standing in favour of further carapace increases.

“If their processors, who are buying their lobsters, are telling them they are not going to buy them, what choice do they have?” said Lee Knox. He is adamant the push for size increases by fishermen on the Northumberland Strait is really coming from the processors who buy their catches and has nothing to do with conservation or sustainability.

Island fishermen stormed out of a lobster advisory group meeting in New Brunswick Wednesday because they felt they were blind-sided by a New Brunswick presentation.

Knox said P.E.I. was only advised late Monday afternoon by DFO that the 9 a.m. meeting in Moncton Wednesday was to be an advisory meeting.

He said there were supposed to be two working group meetings to discuss different presentations before sitting down to an advisory meeting.

“When we walked in there, they had a consultant hired to do a presentation for (processors, Maritime Fishermen’s Union and the New Brunswick government), and recommendations from this meeting were going straight to the minister,” Knox said in describing how the meeting started to unfold.

The lobster grounds for LFA 25 takes in both sides of Northumberland Strait, including fishermen in parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and the south shore of Western P.E.I.  Fishermen throughout LFA 25, as well as P.E.I. spring fishermen in LFA 24 and 26A are scheduled to see the minimum carapace size increase from 71 to 72 mm this year and stay there. New Brunswick, however, is pushing for the measure to go to 73 mm this year, 75 mm in 2014 and stop at 77 mm in 2015.

It was miscommunication. They had more information about the meeting than we did. It wasn’t done properly. When you have a proper meeting with DFO there’s protocol that’s supposed to be followed, and it wasn’t followed Lee Knox, PCFA president

P.E.I. representatives resisted efforts to have a position on carapace size formulated on Wednesday and were subsequently given until February 6 to have a presentation ready. An advisory meeting will follow, probably on February 13, Knox said.

“It was miscommunication. They (New Brunswick representatives) had more information about the meeting than we did. It wasn’t done properly. When you have a proper meeting with DFO there’s protocol that’s supposed to be followed, and it wasn’t followed (Wednesday),” Knox insisted.

“Now we just need to put what ideas we have onto a presentation in with the P.E.I. processors and the P.E.I. government.”

Knox was part of a fishermen delegation that met Thursday with Egmont MP and National Revenue Minister Gail Shea.

“She understands that the pressure is coming from the six processing plants in New Brunswick. It has nothing to do with rationalization or conservation,” Knox noted. “The stocks in LFA 25 are in good shape.”

Knox said P.E.I. fishermen are going to stand their ground that they don’t want the measure to go beyond 72 mm, and he said Minister Shea promised to stand with them.

“LFA 25 is just a very small percentage of the industry of lobsters. That little change that they are trying to make, that is going to be devastating to the fishermen, is not going to change industry for a better price. They won’t even guarantee us we’d get five cents more if we go up to 77 mm,” he insisted.

Geographic location: New Brunswick, P.E.I., Prince Moncton Maritime Fishermen Nova Scotia

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  • Shawn Ellsworth
    January 27, 2013 - 23:04

    I am a fisherman out of howard's cove and just got into it 8 years ago, and out of the last 8 years i would say 5 of those years something has been done to our district to try and help the fishery we had to change escape mechanisms , size increase went up couple times, we lost 10 traps then had to turn around and buy them back, now we have to buy our regular tags, and now they want to turn our fishery into a market fishery only, well i guess that just shows you what kind of province and country we live in, hey lets make the rich own everything and push the little guy out the door. I guess not much left to do on Prince Edward Island except tour it, and if the people who don't fish or farm think i'm crazy, keep in mind what i'm saying and think again in about 10 years , just look 10 percent if now more of the people on the island are out west at least for the winter months now, so i guess i might as well join them , that's what harper and the government want anyway pretty much too choices sell everything and move west , or just file bankruptcy and go on welfare, they don't seem to worry about welfare they live like kings and government more worried about someone who actually works then when jobs run short try and live on ei which if i didnt' have to have ei i wouldn't that's why i think it would be better on welfare don't have to work , don't have to look for work, perfect, crazy me buying a fishing gear to make a living, going at it all the wrong way i guess, anyway i could go on and on but i'm sure some people would get sick of it, i guess the other thing wrong with our fishing is our so called helpful association go to a meeting and come back with bad news, just go and say no JUST SAY NO it's not hard, Well way i look at it for me fishing career almost over so don't care what happens with meetings, i'm setting my gear august 9th and going fishing, probably for the last year............