MacLeod’s Ledge returned to LFA 24
TIGNISH — Seacow Pond fisher Francis Morrissey recalls the controversy created when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ordered spring lobster fishermen off of MacLeod’s Ledge in the 1990s.
Morrissey, and generations of fishermen before him, had set traps on the ledge which is located about six kilometres to the northnortheast off the tip of North Cape.
Fishermen were told the lobster fishing rights to the ledge belonged to fishers from the Magdalen Islands.
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced this week her department is returning the grounds to Lobster Fishing Area 24.
Morrissey said it should never have happened. He is pleased Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, whose constituents include the fishers who traditionally fished the ledge, is righting a wrong.
“ Where the problem came was in ‘85 when somebody decided to redraw the lobster lines,” Morrissey recalled. “ They didn’t come and consult with the fishermen who were fishing in the area. Somebody in the department someplace just went and drew ‘this is where Area 24 lobster boundary is.’ “ Well, nobody looked at anything back then. They never consulted with the fishermen. Nobody even knew that wasn’t ours. We just continued to fish it until that year when they came out and said, ‘you’re not in your zone. You’re outside your zone. It belongs to the Magdalen Islands.’”
The ledge was named after Tignish fisherman William MacLeod who discovered it in the 1920s.
After being kept off the ledge for three weeks, Morrissey said, the department issued a variation order which allowed certain fishers to return to that rich piece of fishing ground. That caused hard feelings, he acknowledged, because DFO only allowed fishers it had evidence of being on the ledge to return. The following year, and all subsequent years any LFA 24 fisher who wanted to fish on the ledge could do so simply by applying for a variation order.