Is crab next?

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Eighteen years since the cod moratorium, and fishermen are taking up their crab pots not, because they have their quota, but because there is no crab to catch.

On July 8, I listened to an interview on Fisheries Broadcast where John Furlong talked to fisherman Larry Pinsent and a crab scientist, Earl Dawe, on the collapse of the crab stocks.

Letters to the editor -

Eighteen years since the cod moratorium, and fishermen are taking up their crab pots not, because they have their quota, but because there is no crab to catch.

On July 8, I listened to an interview on Fisheries Broadcast where John Furlong talked to fisherman Larry Pinsent and a crab scientist, Earl Dawe, on the collapse of the crab stocks.

When asked the question what is causing the collapse, no one had the answer.

Ever since the cod moratorium, we have been fishing the crab species to the maximum and, as with everything in the ocean, there is only so much. If you keep taking crab out without managing it properly, this is the result. Besides fishing it to the maximum, it has also been fished when there is an abundance of soft shell and fishermen will not report it because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans might close the fishery down. Anyone who knows anything about crab knows soft shell is next year's crab and is also very delicate when handled and prone to large mortality when returned to the water.

The other problem is that the 200-plus crab fishermen who have shrimp licenses, will go out and drag the bottom on the crab grounds. DFO shuts down an area for soft shell crab and the next day, you are allowed to go in the same area and drag over the bottom.

How many times have I made the statement, "Will we never learn from our past mistakes?"

Our fishery will never come back until we learn to manage it properly by the fishermen themselves.

(Retired) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett

Brighton

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

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  • Ed
    July 27, 2010 - 21:21

    I remember talking to an old fisherman about 8 years ago while standing on a wharf near my families hometown. I will never forget his reply when I mentioned how fortunate we were that the crab fishery was providing a financial replacement for the missing crab. He said, "my son, I will be retiring in about 10 years and I doubt that the crab fishery will last that long." When I asked why, he replied that "we are overfishing crab just like we did the cod".

  • Anon
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    The point everyone misses. Is that we live in a capitalistic society where Supply and Demand drive our everyday lives. If there is lots of product the price is low if there is little product the price is high. So Economically, the closer a species of fish is to extinction, the better it is for the markets. Ecologically, Sustainability and conservation is nearly impossible when threatened with capitalistic ideas. Anthropologically, We as a society depend on both the economy and the environment, but those with more money will always be able to survive the difficulties of both. Therefore, Rich people have no reason to care for those less fortunate and you get the world we have now, with Oil companies destoying environments and economies. The Gulf Of Mexico will be a dead zone before 2020 but who cares? The only ones that depend on it are poor fisherman along the gulf coast. So enjoy the seals. Enjoy the pristine waters we have while we have them. Enjoy fresh water, Enjoy being able to afford gasoline and enjoy being able to own your home because it's only going to go downhill from here. Start putting your money in gold people. Might be the only thing that saves you in a few more decades. If The west doesn't have the world blown up by then.

  • Bob
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    You strike the right cord Captain. Fishermen know that if they don't work the government & unions will find a way for them to survive. So to hell with it, we'll fish 'till there's nothing left. No, we'll never learn.

  • Steve
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    There is a very distinct possibility that history will repeat itself again. It is the same song and dance - too many people chasing too few fish. Capt. Bartlett had a very interesting comment - the fishery will have to be managed properly by the fisherman themselves. Herein lies another problem, human nature being what it is many fisherman out there for generations have hauled 3 loads to the plant, which counted as quota and sold another load themselves from the wharf for cash, which did not count as quota. That style of - management - most certainly cannot continue in the future. If it does we will see history repeat itself.