When you’re heading out onto the flats of Yarmouth harbour at low tide, somehow there’s not a lot of reassurance in hearing that what you seek doesn’t actually bite.
“What they’re really doing is holding on and seeing if there’s something there they can eat,” says David Fevens.
“When they figure out they’ve got something bigger than what they can handle, they let go. They don’t take flesh or anything like that.”
Fevens is talking about bloodworms. He co-owns G & B Fisheries Ltd. in Overton, the largest buyer of these worms in the area.
Last Friday afternoon, the bloodworm fishery reopened in Yarmouth harbour for the first time in at least six years. Between 35-50 harvesters were bent over, hacking trails through the muck in search of their prey.
Bloodworms are harvested from intertidal mud flats and sold live to marine sport fishermen for bait. A fishery for these worms has existed in the Maritimes since 1952, with regulation coming into effect in 2001. In 1955, four million worms were shipped.
Fevens says in “good times” their company shipped seven to nine million worms annually. “Now we’re down to three (million). Demand has dropped.”
G & B Fisheries Ltd.’s two employees pack the worms in seaweed and two days later they arrive in France. Their reseller has orders waiting. They also ship to the United States and other European destinations.
Wedgeport worms have been Feven’s main supply. With Yarmouth harbour coming back online there will be a glut similar to the start of lobster season.
“We’re basically limiting our men to a specific amount per day (1,000). We could probably buy 70,000 or 80,000 tomorrow but I don’t want to do that because I’d have to shut the men off and they’d have to sit home for a couple of days,” he said.
In three hours the diggers have the opportunity to make $160 at 16 cents per worm. The bloodworm season runs from the first of April to Nov. 15