Ice and bad weather caus­ing prob­lems for crab fish­ers

Slow start to this year’s sea­son for some

Northern Pen - - Front page - KYLE GREENHAM NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA, NL kyle.greenham@north­ern­pen.ca

In a nor­mal sea­son fish har­vester Ron­ald Patey of En­glee would have caught his crab quota by now.

How­ever, bad weather and ice are caus­ing prob­lems for crab har­vesters on the North­ern Penin­sula so far this fish­ing sea­son.

Patey of En­glee made his first crab-fish­ing trip on May 17.

“It’s un­real how slow go­ing it is,” said Patey. “I be­lieve my first trip last year we hauled up 2,800 pounds. Our first trip this year we hauled up 700 pounds. “On av­er­age with three weeks of fish­ing we’d be fin­ished, but un­less things change we’ll be go­ing right un­til the end of the sea­son to get our quota this year.” With ice mov­ing in from north­ern Labrador, Patey says some fish­ers fear they may lose their crab pots.

This ice is also lim­it­ing where har­vesters can use their gear.

Maxwell Sex­ton of Goose The crab fish­ery is un­der­way for har­vesters across the Great North­ern Penin­sula. While catch rates are vary­ing, travelling ice and rough weather has been a prob­lem for many this sea­son.

Cove put out his first pots of the sea­son on May 21 and 22, but is wor­ried that when he and his son Jason haul their gear this week they may have is­sues with ice.

‘The key is to get out there early’

The sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle bet­ter

for St. An­thony fish­er­man Jamie Rose.

He’s fin­ished his sea­son on Thurs­day, May 24, and landed his to­tal quota of 85,000 pounds.

For the past month, Rose has been fish­ing in area four in the 3K re­gion on his 65 ft boat.

Due to harsh weather he was only able to make three trips in that time.

For his en­ter­prise, Rose says it’s been a con­sis­tent year in terms of catch rates.

“We don’t usu­ally have too hard a time get­ting the crab, the key is to just get out there early,” Rose said.

Cur­rently, the fish­ery is only open dur­ing the spring and early sum­mer. Rose says it would be much eas­ier to fish crab in the fall, as they wouldn’t have to con­tend with ice.

Roy Ward of Goose Cove also fishes out of area four in 3K. He’s been fish­ing for the past three weeks and cur­rently has 18,000 pounds caught with 32,000 more to go to meet his quota.

Like oth­ers, weather has been a fac­tor.

“We’ve been try­ing a lot of dif­fer­ent ar­eas to shoot our gear and get clear of the ice,” said Ward. “It makes it tor­ture; when there’s ice around you don’t get as much fish­ing time on your gear and you can’t haul as much.”

On a re­cent trip travelling ice had shifted three some of Ward’s crab pots and, be­cause of the ice, he can­not get to the pots to haul them up. He moved his other gear to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion to avoid the ice.

Ward says the catch rates ap­pear to be im­prov­ing over­all, with smaller crabs ap­pear­ing to be plen­ti­ful .

“I see more smaller crabs now, which is a good sign for re­cruit­ment,” he said. “It seemed for a while like crab had bot­tomed out but it’s start­ing to grow back now. “It’s noth­ing to get too ex­cited about yet, but it does paint a bet­ter pic­ture.

“My first trip last year we hauled up 2,800 pounds. Our first trip this year we hauled up 700 pounds.”

- Ron­ald Patey

FILE PHOTO

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