Veteran fisher Bobby Jenkins is the new president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association.
Jenkins, who fishes out of the eastern port of Annandale, has represented the Southern Kings and Queens local on the board for several terms since 1991 and was the vice president for the past seven years. He replaces Craig Avery, who held the post since 2014.
Avery, who didn’t re-offer for the top job at the association’s recent annual meeting, remains a director from the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association. Jenkins, who has been a boat captain since 1974, says his approach to heading the 1,280 member organization will be similar to his predecessor’s.
Jenkins views the key to success is listening to both the membership and the board of directors, which is comprised of representatives of the six locals around the Island. He praised Avery for taking great direction from the board, adding he doesn’t plan to do anything differently. With an emphasis on transparency and teamwork, the lobster and tuna fisher is confident the industry will move ahead.
The new president has inherited several challenges, chief among them lobster carapace size. Fall lobster fishers in Area 25 will see the minimum size increase from 73 to 75 millimetres as part of a three-year plan by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to move the minimum size to 77 millimetres. The move was requested by New Brunswick fishers who share the zone, but has been strongly opposed by Island fishers.
Fishers in both of the Island’s spring lobster zones rejected the idea of increasing the carapace size in concert with the fall fishery. That means there will be a difference of three millimetres between the seasons this year and five millimetres in 2018, assuming DFO doesn’t order any additional spring increases. Jenkins vows to keep lobbying the federal government on the issue.
As well, Island fishers are disappointed with cuts to their allocation of both halibut and tuna, and the new president says he will forcefully make the case for additional quota.
For his part, Avery lists the creation of an Island lobster brand, the implementation of a penny-a-pound lobster marketing levy, Marine Stewardship Council certification and the sudden increase in lobster prices as some of the high points of his tenure.
The annual meeting also included an address from Kevin Stringer, associate deputy minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; a briefing on new Transport Canada regulations from Ensor McNeill; a report from the Association’s halibut tagging project; and a lobster resource monitoring update from Robert MacMillan, a lobster biologist with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.