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Western Gulf fishermen bristle at other P.E.I. fisheries group resolution

About 50 members of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association attended the organization’s annual meeting Monday in Alberton.
About 50 members of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association attended the organization’s annual meeting Monday in Alberton. - Eric McCarthy

WGFA fires back with resolution of its own


The Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association has answered back to the Prince County Fishermen’s Association.

Last week the PCFA voted in favour of a sending a motion to the annual meeting of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association next month in Charlottetown, calling on all lobster advisory committees in the province to work towards a uniform lobster carapace size.

Spring lobster fisherman, Blair LeClair suggested during the WGFA annual meeting on Monday that sounds a lot like the fall fishermen trying to tell fishermen in his district what to do. “If they are going to try to dictate what we do, the north side, (then) maybe we should be dictating what they do over there,” LeClair said. “They’re fishing drop traps; they’re fishing traps that are as big as the back of a truck. Maybe it’s time we put a regulation in saying smaller traps and no more drop traps.”

LeClair went ahead with a motion calling for no drop traps (single trap bunches) and for smaller traps. He didn’t specify a size limit.

The motion, seconded by Dennis Gaudet, drew no further discussion. There was a hushed “aye” vote and no one among the close to 50 fishermen in attendance voted against it..

Asked afterwards how serious he is about the resolution, LeClair said, ‘They shouldn’t be dictating to us what we do. Let them dictate what they do for themselves; that’s my main point.”

Despite allowing the vote, WGFA president Francis Morrissey pointed out he’s not really interested in discussing what other districts do.

“I’m quite happy with what you, the fishermen from Area 24 do for your own area. You’re very easy to work with. Most times you will always come down on the side of conservation,” he commented. Morrissey highlighted the survey carried out last fall in LFA 24 which saw fishermen voting in favour of a one-millimeter size increase, returning all large females over 115 mm, going to a minimum of six-trap bunches and to have two escape hatches per parlour. If approved by DFO, three of the measures would take effect this year, and the two escape hatches per parlour would be effective 2019 (note change from original story).

“We wanted to put conservation first,” David Lewis, a member of the WGFA lobster advisory committee, said in explaining why there were four questions on the survey. He said the proposal was forwarded to the P.E.I. and subsequently, on Dec. 7, sent off to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for consideration. He told members that the advisory committee hopes to have the department’s response by early March so that fishermen can make the necessary changes to their gear in time for the 2018 spring season.

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