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P.E.I. Fisheries Association, minister update industry on COVID-19 impact

Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association executive director Ian MacPherson says no decisions have been made yet regarding the province’s spring lobster fishery.
Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association executive director Ian MacPherson says no decisions have been made yet regarding the province’s spring lobster fishery.


The Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association is reminding its members that the current situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic is a fluid one, complete with much speculation on what may transpire over the next six weeks.

The end of the six-week period that the organization refers to lines up with the start of Prince Edward Island’s spring lobster fishery.

“The PEIFA will continue our ongoing dialogue with seafood industry representatives, the provincial and federal governments and any other sources of timely and factual information,” association president Bobby Jenkins and executive director Ian MacPherson said Monday through a news release.

They stress that no decisions have been made yet, so there is no other information available to share.

“The association is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will be informing the membership through internal channels of any concrete decisions that have been made concerning the upcoming fishing season.”

“There is a lot of back channel discussions in terms of working with the province, working with the feds, dialogue between harvesters, processors, buyers, all those kinds of things,” MacPherson said in a phone interview.

"All we can do is try to deal in as much factual information as we can and make decisions based on that, and we want to encourage our political leaders to make decisions based on factual information.”

He also acknowledged that the impact of the pandemic on all sectors of community and industry is uncharted territory.

“We don’t want speculation to run rampant, but we also understand that people are concerned, and a lot of people are working hard to come up with solutions to help move us forward through this crisis,” he said in describing the message the association is presenting to membership.

“The common themes are: it’s a daily changing situation and, although there’s lots of speculation out there in terms of what could happen in terms of the upcoming seasons, we’re just keeping channels of dialogue open, and once we can get some more concrete plans developed, we’ll be sharing those with our members,” MacPherson said.

He also cautioned about being overly optimistic and overly pessimistic.

"All we can do is try to deal in as much factual information as we can and make decisions based on that, and we want to encourage our political leaders to make decisions based on factual information.”

In reporting on a conference call he had Monday with the Atlantic Canada fisheries ministers and deputy ministers, provincial Fisheries Minister Jamie Fox said the ministers agreed to regular conferences until the period of concern over COVID-19 has subsided.

“The public health measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have created a unique situation with both economic and social consequences for our seafood industry and our coastal communities,” Fox said.

“Unique solutions will be required, but working together as a region provides an advantage for all of Atlantic Canada’s seafood producers. The health of our citizens is top priority, but we are also committed to helping this vital industry remain strong.”

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