PCFA to vote Apr. 16 on proposed policy changes

Eric McCarthy
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O’LEARY -- The president of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association, Lee Knox, asked members during a special meeting in O’Leary on Thursday for ideas on policy changes and the membership delivered. 

Fishermen engaged in lively discussions on the proposals from the floor but no votes were taken.

That will take place at another special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16 at O’Leary Legion.

The local association is hoping for a larger number of fishermen at the next meeting than the 53 that shared their views on Thursday.

Knox said the association will be communicating with its membership prior to the April 16 meeting about what policy changes are being considered so that they will be prepared to discuss and vote on the proposals.

Making it easier for fishermen to transfer licenses or obtain additional gears factored heavily in the preliminary discussions.

Up for vote on April 16 are allowing fishermen to possess both a spring and fall lobster license in their names, stacking of gears with a trap reduction component, removal of the requirement that fishermen sit out a year before buying back into the fishery and for fishermen to decide whether they want to reconsider New Brunswick fishermen’s request for a carapace increase in Lobster Fishing Area 25.

Knox said he had already told Maritime Fishermen’s Union members in New Brunswick that the PCFA was not budging on the carapace issue. However, with mixed messages expressed on the topic during Thursday’s meeting, he agreed to put it out for a vote at the upcoming meeting. He noted the MFU is now looing for a more modest increase than what it was demanding last year, a millimeter this year and again in 2016.

James Knox pressed for the right to be able to hold spring and fall lobster licenses, pointing out fishermen in his home port of Skinners Pond used to be able to keep busy with spring moss, herring, mackerel and raked moss. “Do you know what comes into Skinners Pond now, until the time lobsters start?  The tide,” he said, several fishermen nodding in agreement.

“We’ve got nothing left to fish for. We can’t leave our $200,000 boat sitting in the yard; we have to keep it working. We have no choice,” Knox said.

Howard’s Cove fisherman Bernard Reilly said he could see Knox’s point, but he suggested opening it up so that fishermen can hold lobster licenses in two districts could make it difficult for new people to get into the fishery, because they’d be out-competed for the licensed by established fisherman.

“Who do you think is going to be able to pay more for it?”

Another fisherman retorted, “Everyone of us, in this room, when it’s tome for us to sell our gear, are we worrying about the young fellow coming down the road, or are we going to sell it to the fellow with the most money? So, who’s worrying about the young fellow when you’re selling?”

On stacking, members proposed allowing a fisherman to buy out another fisherman and retire 40 traps from the other fisherman’s gear, or for two fishermen to buy out another fisherman and each fisherman take 100 traps. Both scenarios would see 40 traps retired as a rationalization measure. 

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Lobster Fishing Area, Maritime Fishermen

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  • SOUTHSIDER
    April 06, 2014 - 18:35

    Another fisherman retorted, “Everyone of us, in this room, when it’s tome for us to sell our gear, are we worrying about the young fellow coming down the road, or are we going to sell it to the fellow with the most money? So, who’s worrying about the young fellow when you’re selling?”.........Finally, an honest fisherman!

  • NORTHSHOREFISHERMAN
    April 04, 2014 - 12:36

    There are probably as many North Shore (spring) fishers fishing the South Shore(fall) as there were traditionally South Shore fishers. Most of the South Side fishing gears that were sold have been bought by North (spring) fishers already, as they are the only ones with enough money to buy them. The problem that they have is that they have to lie and put the gear in someone elses name, including the fisherman that made the propsal.

  • Dylan
    April 04, 2014 - 08:53

    Allowing people to have two licenses may make it more difficult for new entrants but it will defiantly make it more viable for new entrants. The competition is with out west. Have no risk and make 80k a year or own one license and make 50k. Why would someone want to fish? At least if someone has two full gears they can make a decent living for their family.