Cape Breton lobster fishermen who blockaded a harbour this weekend may someday see their demands met, but it won’t happen this year according to the federal government.
A group of fishermen from Inverness met with officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans yesterday, looking for a share of the yearly crab fishing quota.
Because the quotas had already been set for 2008, that isn’t possible this year, said a DFO official, but they will consider making changes for next year.
“I wouldn’t say we’re exactly happy, but I can’t say we’re surprised,” said Trevor McInnis, one of the fishermen at the meeting. “It’s a possibility. That’s where we have to start.”
From Thursday through Sunday a group of fishermen blockaded Inverness Harbour, trapping a group of New Brunswick fishing boats in the harbour. The act was meant to draw attention to lobster fishermen struggling with rising fuel costs and poor lobster catches. McInnis said the blockade was a success in that regard.
“This side of the island needs some help. Lobster’s just not going to cut it,” McInnis said. “Don’t get me wrong, we had a few good years too. You felt comfortable raising a family. But not now.”
One possibility discussed at the meeting was allowing lobster fisherman to catch crabs, but tying this to fewer lobster traps. The fishermen are scheduled to meet Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Ron Chisholm this week and hope to also speak to his federal counterpart, Loyola Hearn.
DFO officials told Metro Halifax it was too early to say what changes might come next year, if any. McInnis does anticipate some resistance from fishermen who currently fish crab. But he said the New Brunswick crab fishermen who were trapped in Inverness Harbour handled the situation very well and many sympathized with the Cape Bretoners.