With thousands of traps lost to Fiona, New Brunswick lobster fishermen call for season extension

The New Brunswick Lobster Union plans to request an extension to the fishing season given the loss of tens of thousands of traps in post-tropical storm Fiona.

The fishing season for Area 25, which includes Northumberland Strait fishers in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, began Aug. 9 and was scheduled to end Oct. 12, Luc LeBlanc said. , Advisor to the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

However, according to initial reports these fishermen may have lost around half of all their lobster traps, LeBlanc said the plan is to ask the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that the season be extended until at least October 15. .

“There is the cost of replacing the traps, which is around $300 [each]but the real problem is the lobster in the trap – it’s a loss of income,” he said.

Lobster fishermen in southeastern New Brunswick have a limited number of traps, « and if half the fleet is short of half the gear, it could be difficult to get replacements in time » , said LeBlanc.

Luc LeBlanc, adviser to the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, says thousands of lobster traps may have been lost and it may not be possible for fishermen to replace them all before the scheduled end of the season, October 12. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Fiona hit Atlantic Canada early Saturday morning, bringing 100 km/h winds and storm surges to New Brunswick’s southeast coast.

LeBlanc said the fishing boats appeared to have done well, with many pulled out of the water ahead of time – a lesson learned from Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

Early assessments also indicate that the docks where they land their catches have suffered only minor damage.

However, many fishermen didn’t have time to get their lobster traps out of the water, or take them further out to sea to protect them from the powerful storm surges.

“The more time passes, the more likely we are to find the craft. Maybe tomorrow we will have a better idea of ​​where the craft is. lobster pots, » he said.

LeBlanc said there are 388 lobster fishers in Area 25, each using 250 traps at a time. This means that approximately 42,000 traps are missing.

fundy north fisherman s association ghost gear retrieval
Each lobster trap can cost around $300 each and is generally uninsurable, according to LeBlanc. (Marielle Torrefranca/CBC)

Unlike fishing boats, traps are not normally insurable, LeBlanc said.

There is currently no specific government assistance available for lost traps, however, LeBlanc said it is something the union hopes will be made available to anglers.

The province has so far announced disaster financial assistance for individuals, small businesses, nonprofits and municipalities that suffered property damage Sept. 23-24.

CBC News has asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans if it is ready to extend the season and is awaiting a response.

LeBlanc said Fiona has also raised concerns about the health of lobster stocks along the Northumberland Strait.

He said the extent of this is still being assessed, but many lobsters – especially smaller lobsters – washed up on shore during the storm surges.

“We are a bit concerned that this could have an effect on stocks in the medium to long term,” he said, adding that the amount of lobster fishermen catch could be lower in the last two weeks. of the season.

LeBlanc said anyone who encounters a lobster on shore should put it back in the ocean.

« I spoke to our biologist at [the Maritime Fishermen’s Union] and apparently the chances of survival are slim, but you still have to give it a chance to survive and just put it back in the water. »


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