Quota needed for lobsters

Miramichi Leader
Thursday, June 28, 2001

IT’S QUICKLY becoming a tireless refrain heard at the end of every fishing season. Stocks are down and the native fishery at Burnt Church is to blame. This year is no different. From all sectors of Miramichi Bay fishermen are saying the same thing. The small catches are happening more than most of the time, they are happening all of the time. You can’t fish the same lobster twice. Everyone needs to be fishing in the spring time only. 

However, some are blaming the storm surge from last fall. Lobsters are scuffed up pretty badly. Who knows how the rock beds are doing. The ocean floor is likely pretty beat up looking, so catches over the next few years are going to suffer because of it. 

A third point is the drop in catches around the Shippegan region. Maybe the blame is originating from a wider geographic location than the waters off Burnt Church. 

And there are likely many other causes that can be pinpointed also. But that ‘s the problem. Lots of things could be causing the decline in lobster stocks. We just don’t know enough about what’s going on down there to say if the stocks are irreversibly on the decline due to two years of summer fishing at Burnt Church. 

The flutter of a butterfly’s wing in China caused an earthquake in California, say the proponents of chaos theory. 

Whether or not conservation is threatened will be a debate right up until the day the world ends, but finding the cause will never be as important as implementing a solution. 

A solution that some are beginning to entertain involves turning the whole thing into a quota-based fishery. Lobster is the most cherished prize in our waters today, but no authorities are at the docks to monitor how many are taken out. Sounds archaic considering how much we value it. 

We need to start keeping a much closer eye on what lobsters come out of the bay, at least as closely as we watch the haul of other species. 

D. Dunn { au: D. Dunn dt: 06/28/01 sc: mleader}