Fortune Bay lobster fishery off to a slow start.
Fishers remain optimistic
In the 21 years he’s been lobster fishing Ernest “Tub” Follett of Grand Bank says he’s never seen a spring as bad as this one.
In his words, “It’s not fit; day after day the wind has been easterly or northeast with freezing cold temperatures. On this side of the bay it causes the water to become slubby and clear and lobsters just don’t crawl when it’s like that”.
However, with the highest prices on record being paid for the tasty crustaceans, most fishers remain very optimistic that the 2017 season will turn out to be a good one.
“The first couple of weeks our landings were about the same as last year but since then they’ve been down”, Follett explained, but he says, “I’m hopeful it will pick up over the next few weeks.”
The 60-year-old fisherman feels the Fortune Bay lobster stocks are healthy with a lot of egg-bearing females and young lobster appearing in the mix.
“I do see a lobster fishery in Fortune Bay for a long time,” he said.
Boyd Grandy, 67, and his wife, Yvonne, of Garnish have been fishing together for 33 years.
Although his catch of lobster so far this season is down a bit due to the weather; he also made the statement that because they are also seeing “lots of undersize lobsters and spawners, it looks good for the future.”
This could be the last year the Grandys will be involved in the lobster fishery as Boyd has been having back problems.
Boyd sums up his occupation this way.
“The lobster fishery has been good to us, it has provided us with a good livelihood,” he said.
This year’s lobster season in Fortune Bay opened on April 15 and will close on June 17. Opening prices paid to the fishers by the buyers started at $9.86 per pound and as of last week was hovering around $7.75.
In 2016, Newfoundland fish harvesters caught nearly 2,900 metric tonnes of lobsters with a landed value of $36.5 million. That’s double the value of the lobster marketed in this province in 2014.
Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have confirmed that once again the Fortune Bay area accounted for roughly 40 per cent of the Newfoundland regional landings of lobster. This means that Fortune Bay fish harvesters, from lobster alone, pumped nearly $15 million of new money into the ailing provincial economy.
There are 265 fishers in Fortune Bay participating in the lobster fishery with each of them employing a deckhand. They are generating jobs for truckers and others handling the product onshore and bringing it to mainland markets.
If you then include the value of other species, including crab, groundfish, scal- lops, whelk and sea cucumbers — also caught by fish harvesters from the area — you should gain an understanding of the value of the local fishery and the huge contribu- tion it makes to the province.
Into the cooking pot.
Fortune Bay lobsters ready for the pot or to be shipped to market.
Form Fortune Bay to the dinner table, a feed of lobster is served.