Logbooks for lobster fishery raise alarm

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- Members of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association voiced their opposition Tuesday to Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ plan to make logbooks for lobster and other species mandatory in 2014.

Western Gulf Fishermen's Association president, Craig Avery, right, looks on as Colin MacIsaac, P.E.I. Chief of Resource Management with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, fields questions during the WGFA's annual meeting Toesday in Alberton.

WGFA president Craig Avery raised his group’s concerns with Colin MacIsaac, P.E.I. Chief of Resource Management with DFO. MacIsaac was attending the group’s annual meeting.

“We want to see something in place where we know the data is going to be used before we go ahead with the work and expense of logbooks. I think it should  be put off until 2015, until DFO demonstrates to us that they can use the information they are going to get,” Avery said. “I think it is a waste of time.”

Rather than impose logbooks on all 1,300 members of the Island lobster fleet, Avery suggested DFO pick 50 to 100 fishermen to pilot the data collection.

“There’s no sense causing a whole bunch of expense for the whole fleet,” he said.

It was noted, too that DFO would not be supplying the logbooks.

Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, said the logbooks got “sprung” on fishermen groups during Gulf meetings earlier this month. “They probably thought we’d talk about it for 10 minutes. We talked about it for close to four hours,” he reported. “Every fishing organization around the table voiced their opposition.”

MacPherson indicated groups are in agreement the logbooks should at least be delayed another year.

“It’s not anything we’re happy about; we’re opposed to it,” MacPherson said, “but, if they don’t change it or back off, it’ll be mandatory.” To prepare for that possibility, he said the PEIFA is making a submission to be a logbook supplier for its members.

Fishermen expressed concerns the logbooks are a first step to electronic data collection and possibly even to dockside or onboard monitoring in the lobster fishery.

MacIsaac told fishermen that DFO is in need of better data on the fishery and while logbooks are the only tool the department is currently prepared to implement, he expressed hope a better mechanism will be available in the future.

Fishermen were also advised that licencing will no longer be done face-to-face with DFO officials. Fishermen will have to apply for and pay for their licences online. It was noted ehat about 50 per cent of the P.E.I. captains have already done so but only about 15 per cent of crewmembers have applied. The PEIFA staff is offering to help fishermen and helpers with the process. Fishermen were encouraged to seek the assistance soon rather than leaving the application to just before fishing starts and things get busy. 

Geographic location: P.E.I. Fishermen

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