Snow crab delay is all about fairness

Published on May 5, 2014

It might be imposed cooperation, but it’s co-operation nonetheless: Crab boats in Shippagan and Caraquet, NB have been held up by ice in and around their ports and, as a result, fishermen from other ports, including those around ice-free Prince Edward Island, have been delayed, too.

That’s only fair. Other boats should not be out picking up the bulk of the catch before the New Brunswick boats can break free. Besides, the crab should still be there for all license-holders once the Department of Fisheries and Oceans gives the go-ahead, likely this Wednesday morning.

Ice also delayed the start of the scallop fishing season between New Brunswick and P.E.I. for a week.  

Waiting for ice to clear doesn’t work for all fisheries, though. It would make little sense to delay the opening of a herring fishery when those mobile fish can be here one day and long gone the next.

There is, of course, room for regional differences in the fishing industry, such as New Brunswick fishermen in Lobster Fishing Area 25 wanting a larger minimum carapace length and P.E.I. fishermen wanting the measure left where it is and successfully arguing there’s no scientific reason for an increase. So far, the P.E.I. fishermen have won out and no future size increases have been mandated. There is nothing stopping New Brunswick fishermen from leaving the smaller canners as long as they are okay with P.E.I. fishermen gathering them up. A size increase for New Brunswick fishermen alone is unlikely, though, as P.EI. fishermen would be seen as benefitting at New Brunswick’s expense.

Fairness still needs to come in to play in other fisheries, such as giving Prince Edward Island a greater share of the tuna quota, considering P.E.I. has about 45 per cent of the tuna licences but is allowed less than one-third the regional quota.

Still with fairness, it is about time P.E.I. got a greater share of the snow crab allocation, either through more traps and quota per boat or by increasing the number of P.E.I. boats in the fleet.