SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Traps across Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 25 came out of the water Wednesday, Oct. 10, marking the end of a mixed bag of a fall lobster season.
On the Summerside waterfront, Merrill Montgomery, captain of the Salty Curls, and his crew spent the morning hauling up traps, loading them onto a truck and getting them set for winter storage.
All things considered, he was pleased with how his things went.
“Season was great, fantastic. Weather was great, catch was great and price was – pretty good,” he said.
In terms of prices for his catch, he reported getting $4.50 per pound for canners and $5 per pound for markets at the start of the season, but it dropped by 25 cents after a couple of weeks.
Captains just across the Northumberland Strait, he noted, were getting an average of about 25 cents more per pound than those landing on P.E.I., which remained a point of annoyance for harvesters here on P.E.I.
“It doesn’t make sense when you’re fishing right next to them,” said Montgomery.
“Season was great, fantastic. Weather was great, catch was great and price was – pretty good.”
Lee Knox, president of the Prince County Fisherman’s Association, said the prices Montgomery quoted were standard this year.
In terms of the catch, it wasn’t as good for everyone, said Knox.
Landings were up notably from last year in the southern section of LFA 25, he noted, but down just as significantly from Miminegash north to Tignish. Official numbers on the fall catch won’t be available for a few weeks.
“Every time we get a measure increase, the north-end always has a decrease (in catches),” said Knox.
LFA 25 fishermen are adjusting to a third carapace increase in three years. The minimum measure was 72 mm until 2015. This year fishermen had to throw back all lobster under 77 mm.
There seemed to be more of those smaller-sized lobster in the northern section of the zone, so harvesters have had to throw more lobsters back there. Traditionally though, catches have naturally adjusted back up in years following a minimum carapace size increase, so captains are hopeful for a return to strong catches next year, added Knox.
He also noted this season took a tragic turn with the swamping of the Kyla Anne off North Cape on Sept. 18, in which Capt. Glen DesRoches and his longtime crewman Moe Getson died.
Those loses weighed heavy on fishermen, he said, and he knows of a number of captains who, after the incident, stayed in port on weather-filled days they would normally have braved.
“Anytime it was rough out, the winds were rolling quite hard … most fishermen stayed in,” he said.