'More pressure on the beds': Scallop fishing restricted in Northumberland Strait

Some of the waters off Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., in the Northumberland Strait — known as a hot spot for scallop fishing — will be closed to harvesting this season as Maritime Electric finishes burying two new electric cables under the Strait to New Brunswick.

Work to bury the cables began last fall and was supposed to be finished by January but problems with equipment and weather have caused delays.

"Borden's got the best bed, the best growth and bed there are," explained Shelton Barlow, the vice-president of the Prince County Fishermen's Association of why the area is normally so popular. 

Now, a 500-metre corridor around the cable work will be a no-go zone for fishermen, and they're worried, Barlow said. 

"They'll have to leave that bed and go up west off West Point, Howards Cove, all along Miminegash do their dragging, and that puts more pressure on the beds."

'40 per cent done'

"The cables have been laying on the Northumberland Strait over the winter," explained Kim Griffin of Maritime Electric.

"What we've had to do is go back and trench approximately twenty kilometres of the two cables between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island," she said.

"Now we're in a position where we are about 40 per cent done, but we are going to need to complete more work into the May season." The work should be complete by the end of May, Griffin said. 

Barlow and other fishermen are also concerned about the environmental impact the work may have on scallops growing in the area.   

"Are we going to have a fishery there in the future, or are we going to have wait seven years to get it back up again?" Barlow asked. 

Maritime Electric has a marine biologist that works with the company to monitor and provide information to regulators and government, said Griffin.

The scallop season opens May 1 and runs until June 3.

Officials from Maritime Electric plan a meeting with scallop fishermen in O'Leary, P.E.I., Monday night to discuss the cable work and its impact.

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