Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac appeared before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries on Feb. 24.
McIsaac, who was accompanied by Deputy Minister John Jamieson, spoke about two of the most high profile topics facing the Island fishery: lobster carapace size and the total allowable catch in the halibut fishery.
For the first time in recent memory, a gap is building in the minimum size allowed in P.E.I.’s three lobster fishing areas. The minimum size in Area 25 (which is the fall fishery) went to 73 millimetres last season as part of a three-year plan to raise carapace size to 77 by 2018.
The move was requested by New Brunswick fishers, who outnumber Island fishers in the share zone. The mainland fishers land predominated market lobster and have been pushing for the increase for some time. Island fishers catch predominately canner size lobster and are opposed to the increase.
The carapace size in Area 25 is slated to go to 75 millimetres for this coming season and is slated to go to 77 millimetres in 2018. The fall fishers are hoping the two spring fishing zones, Area 24 (the north side of the province) and Area 26A (the south side spring fishery), will agree to increase their size as well, but fishers in the two zones have voted down the idea of moving from 72 millimetres.
If there’s no further changes, there will be a difference of five millimetres in the minimum size between the spring and fall fishery by 2018.
Halibut fishers, meanwhile, are upset by the reduction in the Island quota from 46 tonnes in 2015 to 40 tonnes last year, fearing there may by further cuts this year.