By Andy Walker
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Ron MacKinley is asking his colleagues at the PEI legislature to oppose any move to increase the lobster carapace size in the Island’s three fishing areas beyond 72 millimeters.
The veteran minister has introduced a motion, expected to be debated during the fall session of the legislature, which got under way in mid-November. MacKinley, who is the longest serving member in the Island house, said the 72-millimeter yardstick has been agreed to be fishermen in LFA 24 (the north shore), 25 (the fall season on the south shore) and 26A (the spring season on the south shore).
The Island minister said that size is the key to a sustainable fishery. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is currently undertaking a review of the fishery in LFA 25 following a season of prices that ranged in the $2.50 to $2.75 a pound for canners. MacKinley is worried a proposal to increase the carapace size will be part of that review.
“The fishing industry and the processing sector in Prince Edward Island both agree that the smaller canner lobster is unique to Prince Edward Island and provides an opportunity to differentiate lobster in the marketplace and strengthen the Prince Edward Island industry,” the motion reads.
The motion calls on acting Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea (who represents the western PEI riding of Egmont) “to examine this matter immediately and support the Prince Edward Island position of no changes to carapace size beyond the agreed upon 72mm mark.”
The motion is seconded by Belfast-Murray River MLA Charles McGeoghegan, who is a fisherman by profession and son of PEI Fishermen’s Association president Mike McGeoghegan.