Crab quota left in the water

James
James McLeod
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On northeast coast, 15 per cent of crab remains uncaught

With much of the province's crab fishery closing today, fisherman Larry Pinksen says he left more than $50,000 worth of crab in the water.

He's not alone.

In the 3K area - off the eastern tip of the Northern Peninsula - about 15 per cent of this year's crab quota will remain uncaught.

Crab fishermen were busy at the southside of St. John's harbour near the Prosser's Rock Small Boat Basin Tuesday morning as this year's crab fishery came to an end. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

With much of the province's crab fishery closing today, fisherman Larry Pinksen says he left more than $50,000 worth of crab in the water.

He's not alone.

In the 3K area - off the eastern tip of the Northern Peninsula - about 15 per cent of this year's crab quota will remain uncaught.

Depending on who you ask, the problem was either harvesters didn't start fishing until a month after the season opened, or maybe it's simply because there weren't enough crab in the water.

Squabbling over the price of crab between the Fish Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union and the Association of Seafood Producers kept most boats tied up for a month at the beginning of the season.

"I imagine any time you give someone an extra four weeks of fishing, you know, the possibility is that they certainly would have (filled their quota)," said Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman. "I don't know exactly what the fallout of all of this will be. I'm sure that as fishermen take stock of the situation, and if plants are impacted, we will be presented with requests if the need is there."

Pinksen was pretty clear about what the fallout could be: bankruptcy for some fishermen.

"I don't see how you could avoid it," he said. "It's not over until the fat lady sings later on in the fall, but there are a lot of boats that never got the crab, that don't pursue a lot of other fisheries.

"There's not a lot of avenues there for them at all."

Crab represents the economic backbone of the industry.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) already extended the 3K crab fishery for about a month because harvesters were having trouble reaching their quota.

Ultimately, DFO had to close it because fishermen were disturbing, and potentially killing, soft shell crab.

The problems in 3K are stoking fears among people in the industry.

"We're certainly hoping against hope that it's not an indication as to declines in the resource, but we'll have to see what happens," Jackman said.

"I'm not Chicken Little saying the sky is falling, let's not prejudge anything, see what the science says," Pinksen said. "(But) you would be a fool not to be concerned about what's happening here."

The FFAW conducts a crab survey of the fishery at the end of the season, which provides information on the status of the species.

Pinksen said since the collapse of the cod fishery in the 1990s, crab has become the mainstay.

If crab isn't a sustainable source of income, he said he worries about the future of rural Newfoundland.

"So goes the fishery, so goes rural Newfoundland," he said. "The crab is your bread and butter."

Ironically, the economic issues which caused all of the problems at the beginning of the season never really materialized.

"I think overall the fishery has not had the turmoil that we had expected at the front end," said Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers. "And I'm glad to be wrong."

Jackman agreed, saying that the fishery benefitted from strong buyers, and a dip in the Canadian dollar that made

"The only thing that I see as a negative in it, is that it was a month late in starting," he said.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Association of Seafood Producers, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Allied Workers

Geographic location: Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Crabby Pants
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    That crab does not look happy!

  • Chris
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Farmer from NL, br br Please let me know where you sell your product. I support local. find me at www.mylocalearth.ca

  • Billy
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    I agree with Crabbypants - that crab DOES look decidedly crabby!

  • Stop Judging
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Stinky...have you ever been to rural NL?? You obviously haven't been there. THey work hard at all types of jobs! What's your job, I imagine you sit on your ars more than they do. Do you go home and watch tv in the night time? Or are you trying to keep your $100,000 boat in shape to keep your job going? Are you making your nets or finding people to help work on your boat...nope! I bet you are home sitting on your ars! Don't judge until you are in their shoes. I am not from rural NL but love to visit and visit often. Everyone judges the fishermen. Sure some (not all) collect EI in the fall to spring...so do some construction workers with their seasonal work!! Fishermen work on their boats keeping them in shape all year round. Sometimes in the summer they work for 4 or 5 or even longers days straight without any sleep. They don't have it easy. They deserve not to be judged. We wouldn't be here today if they didn't help our economy from day 1! Stop Judging until you are in their shoes.

  • R
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    It's a hard and dangerous job but I have a problem with a fisherman that clears 100,000 for the year and still gets EI. He's also the one with the 5 bedroom house, a cabin in the country, new truck (4 wheel drive of course) and 2 skidoos. He's also the one that complains the most. If you don't like it, try soemthing else.

  • Neil
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Maybe if 80% of fishermen didn't call it a season after the crab was over, they'd be able to run a good money making enterprise. As the article says, most fishermen don't fish any other species. But yet they still get top EI for the fall and winter....something wrong here. I fished back in the early 90's and when the cod closed we went to lump, skate, flounder, etc etc. Whatever it took to pay the bills for the winter. We fished from May to October....

  • Mike
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Fishermen got greedy and sulked for a month. br Maybe next year they won't be so quick to strike.

  • Red
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The crab will go the way of the cod, it has already started with the stocks already depleting. If you don't diversify and fish more than one species, you shouldn't be allowed to fish. I have worked as a farmer and a fisherman and I can tell you they are equally demanding when it comes to physical labor. Since I don't like physical labor:) I now have a desk job.To all you naysayers out there I challenge you to spend one 12 hour day fishing and you just may have some respect for the people who not only built this province, but the entire country.

  • stinky
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    nope, never been to rural nl, never, i hear its a dangerous place to drive and you cant understand what people are saying, as a matter of fact i live in my parents basement and never go outside. whenever i see something on tv (free air channels) i notice all the outports look deserted and the wharves are completely empty with all those busy fishermen working hard around the clock on their bow-ats. so who's doin all the cabin breakins and drinking and drivin and atv crashing round the bay then? cant be those busy, busy fishermen could it? i see no reason to stop judging just because you say so, we all judge every moment of the day, if you say you dont your a liar.

  • Huh?
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    'There is no person out there that physically works harder than a fisherman.' Yes there is, it's a farmer, and they don't get EI.

  • Colleen
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I agree with Stop Judging 110%...I grew up in a fising family in rural Newfoundland. Throughout the fishing season, I hardly ever seen my dad. He was out on the water before the crack of dawn, and usually never got home until sometime way after dark. In a majority of cases, if a fisherman were to log their hours worked throughout the year, it would surpass the regular hours worked by most full - time workers. Whoever thinks that all fishermen do is sit on their arse are ignorant to the fact of what it is they do. During the off season they are hard at work doing repair and maintenance to their gear and vessels. During the winter months, I remember my dad spending countless hours in the twine loft mending and making pots & nets. Like Stop Judging said: They deserve not to be judged. We wouldn't be here today if they didn't help our economy from day 1! Stop Judging until you are in their shoes.

  • Pierre Neary
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Crackie, br I think you have a very good point.

  • crackie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Fishing is the most dangerous job in the world. Why would a crab fisherman risk his boat & crew to go out in bad weather. If you can't get out you can't bring it in.

  • Don Lester
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Chris : Go to Brookfield Road and about 2 kms up you will fine a Vegetable Market.

  • stinky
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    you all squabbled about the price of crab and now you all lose for your childishness. now you have more time to squabble amongst yourselves sitting on yer arses. that's what rural nl does best.

  • joe
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I thought if you were a fisherperson you caught other species --not only crab--want you really want is goverment handouts.The real working person has to work all year-some to leave their homes to find work.

  • Townie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    There is no person out there that physically works harder than a fisherman. They start their days at 5am and easily work 12-14 hour days for the spring and/or summer months. During the Fall and Winter, they are preparing their equipment, whether it be their longliners or nets or lobster traps for the next season. This work is not easy nor is it clean. I suspect that people like Stinky are exactly that-they would run from a job like that of a fishermen as they would not be able to put up with the smell day in day out-afraid to get their hands dirty! For gods sakes, there are many people who cannot handle fish from a grocery store after its been cleaned let alone spend a 12 hour day on the water in loppy seas handling the species firsthand. Go sit in yer laz z boy chair Stinky and turn on your community channel. Oh and make sure your remote is close by!

  • Chris
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I know little about the fishery however I believe the problems are with the structure of our industry here, and not one particular side or another. I certainly hope to keep the fishery going here; we will definitely regret not managing it well if/when the next food crisis hits us (read up on BP and the methane problem).

  • No easy answers
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I doubt many will go Bankrupt as they often own their own homes, trucks, cars, boats, atvs, trailers, etc. Oh not to mention even a small license is valued as high as $70K these days. It's not good for the economy when the fishery is poor, ask a car dealer. But I understand that most people have little sympathy for fisherman. There are some who milk the EI system for all its worth, but not all, so be careful not to judge.

  • Farmer
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I work physically harder than a fishermen. Some days I wonder why I left the fishery after 25 years when there actually was fish to catch, and all sorts of species and seasons. Today's mono-species fishermen have it easy. When my fishermen buddies have the whole winter off I still have animals to tend to.

  • Mike
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    You're right on Stinky. Now we will have to spend the winter listening to the poor fishermen bawling on Open Line telling us all how the government owes them a living.

  • J
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Yay, maybe the crab will get a chance to replenish. br br Just because you have a quota doesn't mean you have to take exactly that. br br We all see how good scientists are at setting quota's with our non-existant cod fish.