After analyzing the preliminary results and gathering the opinions of the participants, the tests of safe fishing gear for whales carried out in the Islands are « not really conclusive ».
The initiative led by the Inshore Fisherman Association has made it possible to « go a long way » in finding viable low-resistance equipment for the archipelago’s fisheries, acknowledges project manager Gil Thériault.
Nine Magdalen Islands lobster boats have tried two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved prototypes: leaded sleeves and weak link ropes.
However, Theriault says that in addition to creating a safety issue on board the boats, the equipment was showing signs of premature wear and tear as the tests did not begin until the third week of fishing.
The equipment is not without interest, he says.
But the English-speaking association is far from having found the « Holy Grail » for the mandatory use of whale-safe gear by fishermen as early as 2024, says Mr. Thériault.
He mentioned that he had met with the participants in December and that the prototypes were not unanimously approved for logistical reasons.
The association hoped to continue the project in the spring of 2023 for tests with plastic rings and thinner strings.
However, the lack of funding from the federal government’s Whale Protection Equipment Adoption Fund puts the second phase of the tests in question, deplores Gil Thériault.