While lobster fishermen in the 26A zone (from the New Brunswick border to the Canso Causeway) were hoping to fish on Saturday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has yet to give the green light for them to head out on the water to set their traps.
The lobster season was supposed to begin at the first of the month but has been delayed because of ice in the Northumberland Strait and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Ron Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association, said the ice is gone from the local area but the start was delayed until Monday at 6 a.m., because fishermen from the southern portion of P.E.I. were opposed.
“They were worried about a little bit of ice,” he said. “We’re ice free but they (DFO) wouldn’t let us go ahead of them. I mean, we don’t share the same bottom so there’d be no impact, right?
“We got bullied into it,” he said, because Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is from P.E.I.
“They have Gail Shea behind them. So try and do something against P.E.I. Good luck. DFO made the decision and that’s the decision they made. They sided with P.E.I.”
Lobster fishermen along the south shore of Nova Scotia and in the northern New Brunswick and P.E.I. regions are currently permitted to fish.
As far as the price of lobster is concerned, Heighton said that is yet to be determined. But he said a sure bet is that it will be less than what fishermen in other parts of the province are receiving.
“But I can guarantee you when we start, the price will drop from where it is today,” he said.
Barrichois Harbour fishermen Trueman Joudrey and Richard Perrin agreed.
“It seems pretty funny, you know, when they can pay that money on other shores and as soon as it opens here it goes right down,” Joudrey said, of the $8-to $10-per pound price that fishermen are reportedly receiving elsewhere.
“Our buyers can go down there and pay that price for them but they can’t pay for them up here,” Perrin said.
As far as the affect the delay will have on their season, Heighton said there is no doubt it will have an impact, especially when it reaches to the point of being more than a few days.
If the water temperature remains cool, he added, they may get a few extra days tacked on to the end of the season. But if the water begins to warm up too quickly, fishermen will not want to affect the seasonal molt.
“But you never get back what you lose,” he said.