Crab fishermen encountering lighter catches

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- The president of the Prince Edward Island Snow Crab Association is hoping for better returns when he goes back out to fish his gear on Tuesday.

Carter Hutt fished his gear only once since setting his crab pots last Wednesday, indicating his catch on Friday was about half of what a first haul of the season would typically fetch.

“Catches are not that heavy, from what I am hearing,” he said, indicating other captains were reporting landings similar to his.

While some fishermen are attributing lighter lobster catches to cooler water temperature, Hutt said water temperature is not likely a factor for crab catches as they are in much deeper water where there is very little variance in temperature from one year to the next.

Hutt said some boats have already made two trips but are only averaging about 50 to 60 pounds to the pot. Last year crab pots, starting out, were providing 150 to 200 pounds. Catches were so good last year that some processors put their boats on a trip quota early in the season. That’s not an issue this year, said Hutt who indicated boats would likely be spreading their trips further apart just to make the trips more worthwhile. As it is, he said, boats will likely be making more trips and having greater expense in filling their quota this year.

The boat quota was trimmed by 12.5 per cent to 53,000 pounds this year.

While he is hoping the lighter catches and the reduced quota will serve to push the crab price upwards, Hutt admitted he still hasn’t heard any word on a shore price as of Monday.

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