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New Brunswick flooding creates bait challenges for P.E.I. lobster fishermen

Chris Misener, left, baits a trap while Lorna Doyle-Desroches throws some rope down onto the boat Sneak Preview while preparing for P.E.I.’s spring lobster fishery in North Rustico. Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson said the province is working with the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association to diversify the type of bait used by lobster fishermen.
Chris Misener, left, baits a trap while Lorna Doyle-Desroches throws some rope down onto the boat Sneak Preview while preparing for P.E.I.’s spring lobster fishery in North Rustico. Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson said the province is working with the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association to diversify the type of bait used by lobster fishermen. - Mitch MacDonald

There’s more than one way to lure a lobster.

The provincial government says it's working with P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association to diversify the type of bait used by lobster fishermen, with flooding in the Saint John River creating the most recent challenge.

During Tuesday’s question period, Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson said some lobster fishermen are already having difficulties with bait and part of that is from the N.B. flooding impacting Gaspereau catches.

“Fishers are having a hard time. We’ve seen prices of bait actually increasing and a lot of fishers have been out there trying to catch their own bait as well as to freeze,” said Henderson.

Henderson said the provincial department of fisheries has been working with PEIFA to come up with alternative sources of bait for lobster fishermen “that may be just as successful as traditional herring, mackerel and Gaspereau.”

Related: Many New Brunswickers face choice after record flooding: clean up, or move

Besides the flooding, federal officials have previously warned that herring stocks are continually declining in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Henderson said fishermen in area LFA 25 have been trying experiments using both perch and rock crab as bait, while the province is also monitoring studies being done on the issue in N.B. and Maine.

MLA Hal Perry said he believed P.E.I.’s rock crab fishery does not open until late June and asked if it could be opened earlier to accommodate lobster fishermen.

Henderson said a number of rock crab fishermen in the western area of the Northumberland Strait have made that request to DFO, which he also supported as minister.

He said the request was denied.

“The rock crab fishery is a quota fishery, so this would not necessarily have an impact on the amount of rock crab harvested,” said Henderson. “Unfortunately, at the moment, the minister responsible for fisheries and oceans has denied that request.”

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