P.E.I. fishers wary of new gear mandated by DFO to protect whales

·1 min read
Lobster fisher Charlie McGeoghegan questions whether the new gear is needed for the shallow waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where there aren't many whale interactions.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Lobster fisher Charlie McGeoghegan questions whether the new gear is needed for the shallow waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where there aren't many whale interactions. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Fishers on P.E.I. will be using some different gear when they hit the water next year.

The federal government is making it mandatory for fishing crews to use the new gear as of January 2023.

The ropes are designed to break more easily so whales won't become entangled and suffer injuries if they swim into it.

Lobster fisher Charlie McGeoghegan said it's causing some concern in the fishing community who wonders if the gear is safe to use, if it will be lost more easily and how much it will cost to replace.

The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for an exemption for lobster fishers, but was denied.

"There's a lot of unknown questions we just feel that DFO should have tested it before they brought the gauntlet down and said you have to have this in place,"  McGeoghegan said.

"The whales aren't in our depth of water where we're fishing lobster in P.E.I. I think an exemption would have been proper."

The PEIFA has received a million dollars' worth of gear to help crews transition.

Melanie Giffin, a marine biologist with the PEIFA, said no one wants to see whale entanglements, but it will take a lot of time for people to get used to the new gear.

"It would have been nice to have more time so we could figure out what works best, unfortunately that's not the case."

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