ALBERTON -- The season is starting to wind down for Prince Edward Island’s traditional snow crab fleet and will soon be starting for those fishermen who were awarded an allocation through the P.E.I. Fishermen Association’s snow crab lottery.
Jesse Coughlin attaches the pull ropes to a pan of snow crabs as he helps offload a vessel. Journal Pioneer file photo
Carter Hutt, president of the PE.I. Snow Crab Association reported Wednesday that three boats have already filled their 53,000-pound quota and, thus, made their final trips to the crab grounds for this year.
Prince Edward Island’s traditional fleet consists of 28 boats of which 25 have been on the water this spring. Other boats in the fleet are fishing the quota for the three fishermen who are not on the water this year.
Hutt anticipates about one-half of the fleet should be finished up by the end of May. Most boats were done by mid to late May last year, but the fleet hit the water last year on April 28 and didn’t get out until May 7 this year due to ice blocking some New Brunswick ports.
Besides the later start, Hutt said boats are experiencing smaller catches this year which is stretching out their season a bit.
The 53,000-pound boat quota represents a 12.5 per cent drop since last year. The price of crabs has gone up 65 cents last year, currently selling at $2.90 a pound. While that is enough to offset the drop in quota, fishermen still have the expense of higher fuel costs and, in some cases, additional trips to catch their quota.
The PEIFA conducted its draw for crab permits at the end of April. Seventy fishermen were each awarded an 11,020-pound quota which they subsequently sold to buyers who will be hiring crab boats to fish it for them. That fishery is expected to start soon.