• CUTLINE: Darren Hutchinson helps offload the first catch of the season from onboard O’Fishal Business Wednesday evening at Howard’s Cove. ERIC McCARTHY PHOTO
CAPE WOLFE, PEI — Lobster fishermen arriving back in port at Howard’s Cove Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 10, were generally satisfied with their first official catch of the 2011 fall season, even though they suggested landings were a little off of last year’s opening numbers.
Barry Cooke suggested the wind on setting day might explain why a lot of boats seemed to be picking up inside gear and moving it to deeper water less than 24 hours after traps were set. He is keeping his fingers crossed inside fishing will improve as the weather settles down.
To protect the quality of their catch, many boats delivered the catch from the first half of the gear they fished to buying stations and then returned to fish the remaining traps.
Weather conditions on Wednesday were vastly improved from what crews encountered on setting day, Tuesday, Aug. 9. The season lasts 10 weeks. The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association is also sailing into the fall lobster season on an optimistic note.
The association issued a press release on setting day, suggesting the fall season should see a continuation of the price increases that occurred during the spring season.
Prices, the PEIFA pointed out, were in the $4.75 per pound range for canners and around $5 a pound for markets when the spring season ended.
While provincial statistics point to a 13 to 14 per cent drop in landings during the spring season, the PEIFA is suggesting landings were down significantly more than that in most spring harbours.
Colder than normal water temperature, fishing days missed to storms, a one millimeter carapace increase and possible impact from severe weather last winter were seen as contributing factors to the drop in landings during the spring season. There are about 577 boats from New Brunswick, 227 from P.E.I. and 18 from Nova Scotia participating in the fall lobster fishery in Lobster Fishing Area 25.
There are 78 fewer boats from New Brunswick in the fishery this year because of the Maritime Fishermen's Union’s participation in a licence buy-back program prior to the fall season.
The Prince County Fishermen’s Association negotiated the retirement of 34 P.E.I. fall gears between 2009 and 2010.
(From the Journal Pioneer, Transcontinental Media)