Lobster catches slow – Cold water, slow-moving lobster blamed for small catches 

Times & Transcript 
Thursday, May 3, 2001

NEGUAC – The last of the lobster boats trapped by winter ice in the Neguac area slipped between ice floes yesterday after a Canadian Coast Guard ice-breaker swept through area harbours and wharves to break up the ice pack. 

The late winter ice kept 70 or more inshore fishermen trapped in the frozen harbours. Others where the ice has broken up were concerned about damage to their boats or loss of lobster traps close to shore with movement of the broken ice. 

There was concern late yesterday afternoon that the ice had drifted into the harbours, presenting a danger to returning lobster boats, said an official with the Maritime Fishermen’s Union. 

It’s too early to tell what the season is going to be like from the first few days of fishing, he said. 

The water is still very cold which means that the lobster aren’t as active as they should be, he explained. 

The spring fishery opened Monday for lobster fishing area 23, which includes northeast New Brunswick waters. There are more than 700 licensed New Brunswick commercial fishermen fishing in this zone. 

MFU organizer Reg Comeau said catches yesterday were down to 100 pounds a boat compared to 600 to 700 pounds in past years. The cold water is likely to blame, he said. 

On the positive side, prices paid fishermen range from $4.50 to $5 a pound for the canner variety of lobster and $5.50 to $6 for the larger market variety. 

No one is getting worried just yet, he said. Catches should begin to rise dramatically as the water warms. 

The fishery usually accounts for 4,000-plus tonnes of lobster each year, or about nine million pounds, he said. 

Those fishermen who lost two to three days trapped by winter ice took some consolation in that catches by other fishermen were down, he said.