Fisherman falls overboard on opening day

Tina Comeau
Published on November 27, 2012

By Jonathan Riley and Tina Comeau


UPDATED 5:50 P.M.: A lobster fisherman from Yarmouth who fell overboard on the opening day of the lobster fishery wanted to go home almost immediately when he got to the hospital. However, medical staff at the Yarmouth hospital however were still bringing his temperature up as of 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and weren’t letting him go anywhere, according to his crewmates.

The experienced fisherman fell off the lobster boat Gotta Lov 'it just before 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27 – the first day of the season in lobster fishing area 34.

Though the crew is all from Yarmouth, the boat left the Digby wharf that morning loaded with traps. They headed out the Gut and south to start fishing off Gulliver’s Cove.

The man's crewmates say he was on the stern of the boat, pushing off the first pot when his hand got caught in the trap and it took him with it – over the side and into Bay of Fundy.

“We couldn’t see him, we didn’t know where he was,” said one of the crew. “Then he came up out of the water and we threw him a balloon, but he couldn’t hold on to it and by the time we got to him, he was floating.”

His crewmates say he didn’t know how to swim; and by floating they meant he was face down in the water and not moving.

They used a gaff to get a hold of him and hauled him aboard.

A Cormorant helicopter and a Hercules arrived on scene about 10:25 a.m. with the Cormorant performing the medi-vac and transporting the fisherman to Yarmouth hospital.

The crew of the boat returned to the Digby wharf near 3:30 p.m. with all the traps aboard but one string.

They weren’t sure when they were going fishing again.

“It kind of scares you,” said a crewmember.

Before heading back to Yarmouth they packed up a stretcher, rope and rappelling gear the search and rescue technicians left on the boat.

As of shortly after 1 p.m. on the opening day of the lobster fishery off southwestern Nova Scotia, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were reporting that there had been just a couple of incidents involving boats or fishermen.

One other incident involved a vessel experiencing mechanical issues, said Frank Quinn, the area manager for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He said it was reported to DFO that the boat was taking on water that was coming through a hatch. A Cormorant helicopter dropped a pump to it and there were other fishing boats in close proximity that were also available for assistance. Quinn said the boat was able to proceed on its own power.

In Yarmouth County, a fishing vessel loaded with traps capsized at the wharf at Port Maitland. (Read story by clicking here.) The sinking at the wharf delayed the start of the fishery at the port by about 40 minutes.

The start of the fishery was postponed by one day due to high winds on Monday, Nov. 26. Instead, fishing boats headed out to the fishing grounds on Tuesday morning, Nov. 27.

Quinn said that given there are about 1,700 boats that headed to sea this morning for the start of the lobster season in LFAs 33 and 34, that there had been only a few incidents was good news overall.

"I'm really pleased with how it's went," Quinn said around 1:30 p.m. "You hate to delay the start of the season but it was really the right decision.

"What a difference a day makes," he added about Tuesday's weather conditions compared to Monday's.

Fishermen can start hauling up their traps after midnight on Tuesday.