P.E.I. lobster fishermen sail out to start the spring season

·2 min read
Lobster boats from five different wharves sailed out of New London Bay Tuesday morning. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
Lobster boats from five different wharves sailed out of New London Bay Tuesday morning. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

As light appeared on the eastern horizon Tuesday morning lobster fishermen taking part in P.E.I.'s spring season pushed their laden boats away from the wharf and out into the water.

It's setting day, the start of the season when fishermen drop their traps and begin the two months of intensive work of bringing ashore the east coast's famous delicacy.

The season usually starts a few days earlier, but was delayed this year by poor weather.

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

A lobster boat fully loaded with traps needs relatively calm weather to sail safely. In addition, poor weather slowed dredging work at Malpeque and North Lake.

On Monday the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported channels had been dredged in both harbours, but work would be continuing to widen them.

'They're doing the best they can'

Chris Wall, who fishes out of Malpeque, said he heard of a few boats that scraped the bottom on the way out top sea Tuesday morning.

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

"They're doing the best they can," he said.

"They're against the weather. It's the worst place in Atlantic Canada to dredge. So we're thankful to have them here."

The spring season on P.E.I. is in Area 24, along the North Shore, and in Area 26A, in the Northumberland Strait from East Point to Victoria.

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

Joanne Sheen was among more than 100 people lined the coast of Yankee Hill on P.E.I.'s North Shore to wish the fishermen well as they sailed past.

"This is my favourite morning of the year. It beats Christmas," she said.

"It's just a feeling. I live among fishermen and it's support. It's awesome."

Stephanie McQuaid, AKA The Redhead Roamer, said she can feel the "heart of the Island" every year on setting day.

"I cry every year because you can just feel the energy and everyone is so excited for the lobster season and hope that the fishermen have a bountiful season."

Prices are up, but so are costs

The season is starting with lobster prices high. Prices typically go down when supply from the P.E.I. fishery hits the market, but wholesaler stocks are low and prices are not expected to dip much this year, says the Lobster Fishers of P.E.I. marketing board.

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

While prices are up, so are costs. Diesel is at record-high prices, and bait is harder to come by with a moratorium on herring and mackerel fisheries.

High lobster prices are a concern for restaurants specializing in lobster rolls, who are worried the sandwiches may become too expensive for locals to buy.

Nicola MacLeod/CBC
Nicola MacLeod/CBC

Sheen said it's important to her to support the fishermen.

"We all eat lobster but we don't realize the work that goes into it and we see them go past our house every morning and crappy weather and they earn their keep."

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