Lob­ster catches start out strong

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIC MCCARTHY

Fish­er­men re­turn­ing to port in Miminegash on Wed­nes­day were not so much con­cerned with the size of their catch as they were with what they were throw­ing over.

“It’s scary,” said Peter Hustler, a fish­er­man’s helper with cap­tain Michael My­ers.

He es­ti­mated the num­ber of lob­sters he re­turned to the wa­ter, that would have been le­gal size last year, would have meant eight to 10 more pans of can­ners. “This is the scari­est I’ve seen it.”

The cara­pace mea­sure was in­creased by two mil­lime­tres this year fol­low­ing a 1-mm in­crease last year, and My­ers had plenty to say about that.

“The mea­sure is not go­ing to prove out,” he said, sug­gest­ing fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic Le­Blanc should have lis­tened to P.E.I. fish­er­men’s pleas and trimmed the cara­pace in­crease to just 1 mm this year.

“I hope he can stop it for next year,” said My­ers, mind­ful that an­other 2-mm in­crease is al­ready sched­uled for 2018.

“We def­i­nitely need a grace pe­riod.”

My­ers said fish­er­men be­lieve the in­crease is all pol­i­tics. He said fish­er­men across the Northum­ber­land Strait told them at meet­ings that P.E.I. had their turn with a fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter, re­fer­ring to former Con­ser­va­tive MP Gail Shea, and now it’s their turn.

Le­Blanc is from New Brunswick.

Fish­er­men in New Brunswick had been lob­by­ing for cara­pace in­creases while the Prince County Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, of which My­ers is a di­rec­tor, had re­sisted.

Fel­low fish­er­man Dale Hustler was sat­is­fied with his 2,000pound first-day catch al­though he sug­gested it was prob­a­bly 300 pounds off his open­ing catch last year.

He said the im­pact of the un­prece­dented 2-mm in­crease will be even more ev­i­dent as the land­ings de­crease.

“We’d be well sat­is­fied with one mil­lime­tre,” he said.

He sug­gested the change from last year’s 73 mm mea­sure to this year’s 75 mm mea­sure shrunk his first catch by 600 to 700 pounds.

Terry Gal­lant said those lob­sters be­ing thrown back in won’t be avail­able to fall fish­er­men later if they mi­grate to the north side where the mea­sure has been left at 72 mm.

My­ers is also con­cerned about sac­ri­fic­ing lob­sters to the spring sea­son, stress­ing it is the fall fish­er­men who lose out.

“Once they mi­grate, they’re le­gal on that side.”

He is wor­ried some fall fish­er­men won’t sur­vive if the sched­ule is main­tained.

ERIC MCCARTHY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Peter Hustler, right, dis­plays a can­ner lob­ster that’s barely le­gal size, yet well within range ac­cord­ing to last year’s gauge. Look­ing on is Kyle Doucette. Hustler sug­gested their boat threw over eight to 10 pans worth of lob­ster Wed­nes­day that would have been le­gal size this year if the mea­sure hadn’t in­creased.

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