ALBERTON – As it works on its presentation to hold the minimum carapace size in Lobster Fishing Area 25 at 72 millimetres, the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association is finding some comfort in a media report that a size increase is not needed from a conservation perspective.
In the report, DFO scientist Marc Lanteigne acknowledges that an increase to 77 mm would mean that 75 per cent of the female lobsters would bear eggs, compared to 50 per cent at 72 mm.
But Lanteigne said the stocks are not threatened at the current size limit.
“That’s been our position all along,” said PEIFA managing director Ian MacPherson: “It doesn’t appear the (push for a carapace increase) is driven by a conservation standpoint.”
MacPherson said the push coming out of New Brunswick seems to be more from an economic standpoint.
While he agrees economics is an important component, he said it is not typically something DFO deals with.
The push for the minimum carapace size in LFA 25, the Northumberland Strait fall fishery, to be increased to 73 mm this year and to 77 by 2015, is being resisted by the P.E.I. industry.
MacPherson is guardedly optimistic by a DFO assurance that there is no plan to increase the carapace size beyond 72 mm this year. DFO adds, however, there is nothing stopping fishermen from agreeing among themselves to only catch larger lobsters.
“This is a big issue and it can have significant impacts,” MacPherson insisted. “Our disappointment through this whole thing is, typically, when you have big issues, you have to have consultation.”
What’s going to happen when everybody’s at the same size and you’ve got five provinces knocking each other over the head to sell market lobsters? - Ian MacPherson, PEIFA managing director
He said there appears to be no appetite for discussion on this one.
MacPherson said the P.E.I. delegation that walked out of a Lobster Advisory meeting last week in Moncton was disappointed with the way DFO handled the proceedings. He said the Island delegation did not feel that meeting was the appropriate venue to present its case for leaving the carapace size alone when process and protocol was not being followed.
He said they got another surprise Wednesday when DFO advised that, after all sides present their arguments next week, DFO will decide whether a follow-up meeting will be held.
“We aren’t onside with that,” MacPherson said. “We thought (a follow-up advisory meeting) was one of the things that was agreed to.”
MacPherson said dialogue has to resume because there are other issues in the lobster industry to discuss too.
Pointing out the Island industry is adamant the size limit not go up, he asked, “What’s going to happen when everybody’s at the same size and you’ve got five provinces knocking each other over the head to sell market lobsters?”
“Once that’s gone, that’s gone, that opportunity, and that’s a huge concern,” MacPherson said.