Lobster fishers in the Upper Bay of Fundy (LFA 35) are seeing solid landings and a strong shore price for the first two weeks of the season, which opened Oct. 14.
“Fishermen are quite pleased and surprised,” says Chris Hudson, president of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association. “It’s a good start. Landings are up from last year. The price is $6.50, a good opening price. So far, the weather has cooperated. We can’t complain about the weather. It’s quite encouraging. It’s been a really good fall for the boys.”
Hudson says catches for the last two fall harvests “were down quite a bit” compared to previous seasons, and last spring’s fishery was “one of the worst in years,” with landings down as much as 40 per cent for some fishers.
“Everybody was expecting the same this fall because of last fall and spring,” he says.
Instead, fishers were finding catches of about 15 pounds to a pot for the first few days of the season, Hudson says. Although the landings have dropped off some, they were still strong two weeks in.
“The landings aren’t decreasing as they usually do,” he says, estimating landings are up five to 10 per cent overall from last year’s opening two weeks. “The boys are happy. It’s a very nice run of lobsters.”
Hudson says there’s a good mix of sizes in the catch, including a lot of smalls, which is a good indication for the stocks. Quality has also been good, he says, with hard-shelled lobsters comprising most of the catch.
“There’s the odd soft shell,” Hudson says.
One thing fishers are finding that’s “unusual for October” is the water temperatures are still warm, with reports of temperatures as high as 20 degrees Celsius along the south shore.
“There’s been no cold weather, no northly winds,” Hudson says. “All the winds have been from the southwest and south.”
This is worrisome for Lockeport-based lobster buyer Mike Cotter of Cotter’s Ocean Products Inc.
“The water temperature is five degrees warmer than it was this time last year,” Cotter says. “In Maine, lobsters are going through a second shed because of the warm water temperatures. If that happens here (LFA 33/34), it will be a disaster. We’re in a situation now where we need the water to cool down.”
The lobster fishery in LFAs 33/34 is scheduled to open on Nov. 27.
As for markets, Cotter says neither the live markets or processing markets are currently strong, noting LFA 25 in P.E.I., which just closed, had a phenomenal season generating a lot of inventory for the processors.
“We’re all just crossing our fingers and hoping it’s going to be a good opening price” when the season opens in LFAs 33 and 34, Cotter says.