New rules imposed by DFO this year pertaining to marking gear has some fishermen questioning whether it’s necessary particularly in eastern PEI regions.
The rules became effective on January 1 for fixed-gear fishermen to help conservation efforts of marine life and particularly the North Atlantic Right Whales.
Fishermen are required to add coloured pieces of twine to trap lines at specific intervals. The colours correspond to the fishing district, the species of fish and the origin of the gear.
Darrell Lesperance of Clearspring has been fishing on the north side in LFA 24 for 35 years. He said in his time on fishing boats he hasn’t seen the need for the new rules.
“We’ve never seen a whale in our area and it is a concern because if one is spotted they’re (DFO) likely to shut the zone down,” Mr Lesperance said.
Bethany McCarthy of Graham’s Pond has fished lobster for 27 years and said she hasn’t seen North Atlantic Right Whales in LFA 26A.
“I think it’s pointless,” Ms McCarthy said. “I don’t know if the changes will benefit anything.”
Ms McCarthy said the task of adding new twine will be an extra task to prepare her lobster traps for the spring fishery.
She said she understands the reasoning for the new rules but doesn’t agree with them.
“We’re (fishermen) getting blamed for whale deaths,” she said.
The PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA) received official notice of the change just before Christmas.
“There’s never been a reported entanglement in lobster gear in the gulf,” Melanie Giffin of the PEIFA said.
Ms Giffin said the new rules are getting mixed reactions from fishermen.
“Some people are fine with it (new gear marking rules) because they knew it was coming. We have to do everything we can and other people are disappointed we didn’t have it earlier. A lot of the guys did their gear for next year when they put it away last year,” Ms Giffin said.
The new regulations are intended to better track fishing gear and help combat ghost gear (gear that cannot be retrieved but continues to fish).
The new rules for gear marking applies to lobster, crab and whelk fishing equipment. The rules extend to gillnet and longline fishing.
The spring lobster season opens May 1 and snow crab opens in April.