On average, the 2019 spring lobster season was a good one, once fishers were able to get out on the water.
Because of bad weather, the season started four days later than planned, mainly because of wind.
“Once that wind passed, we had a really good stretch of good weather,” said Mitchell Morrissey, of the lobster fishing boat Secret Weapon, based out of Seacow Pond. “It was cold, but wind-wise, it was pretty calm most days.”
Mr Morrissey said catches, along with prices, have been fair as well.
This year, fishers received between $5 and $5.50 for canners, and between $6 and $6.50 for markets. While this was pretty much on par for what fishers in New Brunswick received, it’s a bit of a different story to Nova Scotia.
“I’ve been talking to our counterparts in Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia prices, in particular to markets, were better than the PEI prices,” said Robert Jenkins, president of the PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA). “We’d like to try to get to the bottom of what’s going on there. If some of the information that we’ve got is correct, then there’s a discrepancy of 50 to 75 cents on the market price between Nova Scotia and PEI.”
To offset the lost days, four days were added to the end of the season by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Two years ago the PEIFA membership voted for lost days to be added to the end of a season.
Mr Jenkins said this is the first time days have been added since the vote. Fishers were not required to fish the extension.
Because the season would conclude in July, when waters are warming up, there was concern about catching spawning or molting lobster.
“Catches were dropping pretty good,” said Mr Morrissey. “They dropped a lot, and they dropped quick. We were starting to see some spawning lobsters, we were starting to see a lot of females spawn. They usually do this time of year.”
When speaking of the upcoming fall season, Mr Jenkins said because the number of fall fishers is fewer than the spring, prices should be strong.
In Seacow Pond, fall fishers are also dealing with work in the harbour.
Because there’s only one way into and out of the harbour, kelp is trapped and settles on the bottom, which can get into a boat’s machinery and cause thousands of dollars in damage. A multi-year project to fix the issue and repair part of the harbour docks was announced in September 2018.
“They dug for a while at the start of fishing,” said Mr Morrissey. “They dug a pretty big hole, and the kelp kind of settled into the hole, and helped matters a little bit. We’ve got a lot of faith it’s going to be done. We’re seeing some good things happening.”