ALBERTON-- While the gap between P.E.I. and New Brunswick lobster fishermen on the carapace size issue might still be as wide as the Northumberland Strait, the managing director of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association is finding common ground on quality.
P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia fishermen representatives attended a Lobster Fishing Area 25 advisory group meeting Wednesday to discuss and clarify their positions.
With little movement on their carapace positions, Ian MacPherson said the groups agreed to move on to another issue and had a good discussion on lobster quality.
“What we suggested is there’s opportunity here for industry harvesting groups, to sit down and really have some open and frank discussion about how we get the quality up, because everybody benefits,” MacPherson summarized.
What seems to be happening, MacPherson suggested is that whenever someone does not look after the catch properly, either at the harvester level or buyer level, “everybody gets pulled down to their level, price-wise. We’ve got to work together to reverse that trend. That’s a no-win situation.”
On the carapace issue, MacPherson said PEI is standing firm that it does not want to see the carapace measure grow beyond 72 mm.
The minimum measure throughout LFA 25 is due to move to 72 m from 71 this year and P.E.I. then wants it left alone to protect its niche market for canner lobsters.
It’s not within DFO’s mandate to deal with economic issues - Ian MacPherson, PEIFA managing director
Groups in New Brunswick have been pushing hard for the measure to move to 73 mm this year and to 77 by 2015.
While the dispute is moving on to the senior management level of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for further consideration, MacPherson says Island fishermen feel DFO has no role to play in this issue.
“It’s not within DFO’s mandate to deal with economic issues. One of our positions has been that this whole discussion about what buyers want and what certain processors want is really a discussion for the marketplace and not for DFO to dictate.”
MacPherson feels the issue can actually be self-regulated. “Quite frankly, if New Brunswick doesn’t want 72 mm lobsters, they can simply dictate that to their harvesters and that would be it. It doesn’t require legislation or changes or any of that.”
He agrees P.E.I. and New Brunswick have different opinions on whether the carapace increase is needed for conservation. P.E.I.’s position is that stocks are healthy and are at or above targeted levels for sustainability.