Scott Lewis was six years old when he first joined his dad on “setting day.” Prince Edward Island lobster fishing tradition dictates that traps are set each year on April 30, ready for the first day of harvest in the spring season on May 1. It’s an occasion anticipated eagerly by both fishers and Islanders because it signals the beginning of the spring lobster season. Over the next eight weeks about 1000 Island fishers will get up early (really early), head out to their fishing grounds and collect the delicious crustacean known as the Prince Edward Island lobster.
Scott took naturally to the fishing life, working alongside his father until he purchased the fleet (boat plus gear), keeping the business in the family for another generation. This is typical of many Island fishing families where the lobster license and boat are handed down from one generation to the next. The PEI lobster fishing lifestyle has both benefits and challenges. Chief among the benefits is knowing that the lobster harvested from the waters around Prince Edward Island will provide fresh and healthy seafood that was grown in a sustainable, controlled fishery.
“The Prince Edward Island lobster fishing industry is tightly managed,” says Scott. “Besides regulations that limit the length of the season and the number of fishers and traps licensed, we take a personal responsibility for every single lobster that comes up in a trap. We measure the carapace to be sure it meets minimum size, band the claws to protect the lobsters, and ensure they are stored in cool conditions until they make it to market.”
When asked what kind of person makes a good lobster fisher, Scott described “a person who likes being outside, is handy and good at troubleshooting, is community minded and a risk-taker.”