Fall lobster season ends on a high note

Keith Macmillan (left), captain of the boat Emma & Hannah, and crew member Trevor Smith (right), unload part of the day’s catch at West Point Harbour. Mr Macmillan said it’s been a great season for fishers, with the general trend for catches being up this year. Many fishers are crediting the carapace size increases that have taken place over the last few seasons for this trend. Jillian Trainor photo

Lobster fishers are crediting the increase in lobster carapace size for the good season they’ve had this year.

“Everybody is pleased, from the impression I’ve been getting anyway,” said Keith Macmillan, captain of the Emma and Hannah, based out of West Point. “I think the general trend is up from last year. The canner increase seems to be helping quite a bit, we’re very pleased with the season.”

Heading down any of the wharves, it’s easy to see how much those increases have helped. When the catches are brought in at any of the ports, the lobster are noticeably larger this year.

Along with catches, prices have been good as well, with fishers getting $5 for canner sized lobsters and $5.50 for market sized lobsters. This is the same price they’ve been receiving all season.

Something that’s being enforced this year is the fact that fishers have to wear a personal flotation device, also known as a PFD. While the fishers admit they can be a little uncomfortable, they’re good thing to have on in case of an accident.

These PFDs are quite different to the ones traditionally used for recreation. Instead of being a bright red, orange, blue, or yellow, they’re grey, and they wrap around the chest and neck. If a fisher happens to accidentally fall overboard, they automatically inflate once submerged in three or more inches of water. If that inflation doesn’t occur, a cord can be pulled to make that happen.

“They’re not bad, they chafe the neck a little bit,” said Lee Doyle, captain of the Miss Ella, based out of Miminegash Harbour. “I hear there are some fellows where it self inflates if they’re getting spray from the boat, so they’re blowing up while they’re on the boat.”

While they may be not be the most comfortable, all the fishers agreed that they’re something that needs to be worn, and that safety trumps a bit of discomfort.

As the season winds down, weather has been getting a little more tempestuous. One of the biggest concerns fishers had this season was with Hurricane Dorian, and how it might impact the industry.

“Before the hurricane, it was pretty good, but ever since we got that Hurricane Dorian the weather has been unsettled,” said Derrick Lewis, captain of the boat Ready Oar Knot, based out of Howard’s Cove. “Everyone was a little worried where the gear may have slid around, but everything stayed put.”

PEI’s 2019 fall lobster season ended on Oct. 8.

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