The president of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association (PCFA) is hoping this is the year fall lobster fishermen in the northern part of Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 25 get caught up with their counterparts in the south of their district.
After a five-millimetre carapace size increase, spread out over three consecutive years, there are no further increases scheduled for the fall season.
The stop in the carapace climb is “very important, especially at the north end,” Lee Knox said. “It’s great we’re finally there. Hopefully, this year, we will see an increase in the north end rather than a decrease.”
The PCFA president said catches in the north increased in 2016 when there was a one-millimetre increase but declined the next two years when consecutive two-millimetre increases were imposed.
Despite the decline in landings up north, overall LFA 25 landings continued to increase, including a 10 percent increase last year.
Those realities, Knox said, did result in some fishermen from the northern ports sailing south to set their gear, and he’s not sure if they will all be back to their traditional area this year.
The fall season opens on Aug. 8 and Knox is anticipating strong catches throughout the district and he is also hopeful of higher prices. “The demand is there. Inventory is cleaned up; it should be a decent price,” he suggested.
He has another hope. He’d like to see the daytime temperature dialed back to the low 20s by the time the season starts, but he noted boats are well equipped with cooling equipment and ice in order to maintain the quality of the catch.
While there is no change in the carapace measure this year there is a new curfew in place, voted in by the majority of PCFA members, which requires fishermen to be back in their home port with their lobster catch by 9 p.m., and they can’t start their fishing trip before 4 a.m. T
he measure does allow them to go out and check fishing nets prior to 4 a.m. but their lobster fishing trip, from a port somewhere in the district, cannot commence before 4 a.m., Knox noted. The minimum carapace size in LFA 25 this year is 77 mm, the same as in 2018, and Knox is not anticipating any further increases in his district at least until the Island’s two spring LFAs catch up. Fishermen in LFAs 24 and 26A fished a 73-mm lobster this year.