Most lobster fishers in New Brunswick are pleased with the scheduled staggered increase in lobster carapace size. The federal government imposed three scheduled increases: one millimetre in 2016, and two millimetres in each of 2017 and 2018, bringing the legal size to 77 millimetres.
Maritime Fishermen’s Union President Carl Allen says his organization’s membership, for the most part, accepts this increase schedule.
“But I think that even those who might be interested in going forward (with further size increases), would like to take a break. There were a lot of people (MFU members) who were interested in going this far, but I don’t know if they would be so interested in going further,” Allen says.
He explains that some members believe it’s taken a long period of time to have the staggered increases come into effect and now many want to allow an appropriate period of time to assess the results of that action.
“They want to give it some time, see how things are going and then let the conversation take place, if it does, after that,” he says.
Allen believes it will take some time to gauge the results.
“A lot of different people have a lot of different ideas about what they’re going to get out of it. One thing we’re going to get is a bigger lobster… at the end of the day we’re all paid by the pound, not the piece. It’s still a cheaper lobster by pound. It might be different if buyers were paying more for the smaller lobsters than they are the bigger ones, but where the price is less, why wouldn’t you try to get the extra weight,” Allen asks.
He says in the future, in leaner times, catches should be better, which provides a bit of insurance.
“Right now we’re in an upward trajectory in resource, which hopefully will ensure a better future (with regards to fish stocks). There will certainly be multiple outcomes from the effort,” he says.
Allen says overall the lobster stock is fairly good and the buying back of licenses over the past few years reduced the number of harvesters in certain areas.
“There are still some areas that have big fleets that might benefit from further rationalization; some areas have talked about it and you hear it all over the place because in some places it still is congested, it gets tight; but in areas like LFA 25 [where Allen fishes], it has helped,” he says.