Top News

LOBSTER OUTLOOK: The annual Tri-County Vanguard look at the southwestern Nova Scotia lobster fishery

2017 dumping day in southwestern NS got off to a start the early morning of Nov. 28. This was the scene in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County NS. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
2017 dumping day in southwestern NS got off to a start the early morning of Nov. 28. This was the scene in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County NS. - Tina Comeau

The 2018 Lobster Outlook by the Tri-County Vanguard.
The 2018 Lobster Outlook by the Tri-County Vanguard.

The largest commercial lobster season in the region, the province and the country gets underway at the end of November in southwestern Nova Scotia and along the province’s south shore with the opening of the LFA 34 and 33 lobster fisheries.

Around 5,000 fishermen will be on boats when the season opens.

Weather permitting, the season will get underway with dumping day on Nov. 26.

LFA (Lobster Fishing Area) 34 includes all of Yarmouth County and parts of Shelburne and Digby counties. LFA 33 picks up in Shelburne County and extends to Halifax County. Numerous search and rescue assets will be deployed on the water and in the air on dumping day as safety is a top priority.

According to preliminary figures, DFO says last year lobster landings in the LFAs 34 and 33 generated a landed value of approximately $502 million.

Each year prior to the start of the LFA 34/33 lobster season, our Tri-County Vanguard newsroom compiles our annual Lobster Outlook publication. This year the 28-page outlook is included in the Nov. 21 issue of the Tri-County Vanguard and also Tri-County Extra coming out the same week.

A note from our newsroom

As the 2017-2018 start of the lobster season in southwestern Nova Scotia approaches, all of us at the Tri-County Vanguard and SaltWire Network want to wish fishermen a safe and prosperous season.

Here is a sampling of stories included in this year’s LOBSTER OUTLOOK.


SEASON OPENING

BY TINA COMEAU

Who, what, where, when, why? An overall look at the opening of the lobster season.

• Largest lobster fishing season opens in southwestern Nova Scotia next week


OPENING DAY ASSETS LINED UP

BY KATHY JOHNSON:

A full complement of Search and Rescue (SAR) resources will be on the water and standing by when the commercial lobster fishery in LFAs 33 and 34 opens.

“We’re in the business of planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Marc Ouellette, Canadian Coast Guard Regional Supervisor for Maritime Search and Rescue at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax.

• SAR resources will be in place for lobster season opening in southwestern N.S.  


SAFETY OP-ED


Everyone deserves to come home safe at the end of the day. An op-ed was written by Labi Kousoulis is Minister of Labour and Advanced Education and Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia.

• Op-ed: Fishing safety must always be at the forefront


SHIP-TO-SHORE WASTE MITIGATION

BY KATHY JOHNSON

Fishermen are being urged to do their part in keeping the North Atlantic free of debris by bringing all their waste ashore this lobster season, including bait boxes, which otherwise can end up being deadly to marine animals and the ocean floor.

• Ship-to-Shore program urges fishermen to bring waste ashore


ROPELESS GEAR

BY KATHY JOHNSON

Fisheries innovation was being put to the test earlier this month in southwestern Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy with the start of a pilot study on the effectiveness and practicality of ropeless fishing gear technology for the commercial fishing industry.

• Testing the Nova Scotia waters with ropeless gear


RETIRED FISHERMAN REFLECTS ON DECADES OF FISHING

BY KATHY JOHNSON

Bradford (Baffy) Symonds Jr. was only a-year-and-a-half old when his mother took him to Seal Island for the first time. “I’ve pretty well been on the ocean every year since,” said the retired Cape Sable Island fisherman. “It’s been an interesting life.”

• ‘It’s been an interesting life’: Cape Sable Island fisherman reflects on decades of fishing


Did you know? Lobster tidbits

An egg bearing lobster, referred to as a berried lobster. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
An egg bearing lobster, referred to as a berried lobster. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Canadian Atlantic Lobster are truly fascinating creatures. Here are some interesting facts that you may, or may not, know about this charismatic crustacean.

Hard shelled versus soft shelled: Since the Atlantic Lobster must moult – shed its shell – in order to grow, it will display a thinner softer shell after it has moulted. In Canada, the lobster season is staggered around the summer moulting period and the majority of Canadian Atlantic Lobster are harvested hard-shelled.

Moulting: This is done through out the life of the lobster to enable it to grow. During its first year a lobster will moult as many as 10 times. Lobsters will continue to moult approximately once a year until maturity. Older lobsters may moult only once every two to three years.

Berried lobster: A female with eggs under her tail. Under Canadian law berried lobsters must be returned to the sea.

Regenerating limbs: Lobsters can regenerate appendages lost to predation. This would include their claws, legs, antennules and antennae. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, lobsters will also drop a claw.

Lobster teeth: Lobsters do have teeth, however, instead of being found in the mouth they are found in the stomach.

Steam scream: The Atlantic Lobster does not have any vocal cords and contrary to rumour it does not scream. The sound heard when boiling lobster is only the steam escaping from the shell.

Growth chart: It takes a lobster around six to eight years to reach a market weight of approximately one pound. Lobsters grow quicker in warmer water and can achieve market weights in less time.

(Source: DFO)


 

LOBSTER MARKETS

BY KATHY JOHNSON

Market conditions for live lobster exports appear to be prime heading into the season opening for LFAs 33 and 34. “I think we’re looking at a relatively healthy season in the fall,” said John Sackton, founder of seafood.com at this fall’s SWNS Lobster Forum in Yarmouth.

• Market conditions prime for Canadian lobster


PAST SEASON STARTS

COMPILED BY TINA COMEAU

Weather delays. Weather issues. Concerns over price. Sunday fishing, yes or no? Remember when lobsters were 65 cents a pound? Or when 90 cents a pound was considered a “record-breaking” price? A look back at past dumping days from 2017 back to 1966.

Smooth sailing, rough weather and you’re paying what? A look at past season starts in southwestern NS


80 YEARS LATER, LOBSTER STILL A MAINSTAY

BY TINA COMEAU

As fishermen have been working in yards and on wharfs preparing gear for the upcoming lobster season, the region’s largest family-run private boat yard has been marking its 80th anniversary in business. And while A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd. in Meteghan River continues to diversify and expand its product line, lobster fishing boats continue to be a mainstay.

A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd. Has diversified its products but lobster boats remain at the core of the business


A DAY AT THE ‘OFFICE’

BY CARLA ALLEN

Pubnico photographer and fisherman Wayne d’Entremont lands fish and photos on each trip. When it’s blowing a gale he says it’s impossible to use a tripod so he just braces himself to shoot. “If I hear a big splash on the side of the boat I just duck and hope it doesn’t get me or the camera.”

• Pubnico photographer/fisherman lands fish and photos on each trip

A sample of Wayne d'Entremont's photography
A sample of Wayne d'Entremont's photography


FOCUS ON SAFETY

BY KATHY JOHNSON

Man overboard drills place emphasis on safety. The provincial Department of Labour also says it will be stepping up enforcement of the regulation to wear PFDs when the season opens with an increased presence on wharfs in the area and additional officers.

Southwestern N.S. lobster fishermen asked: ‘Are you ready?’ as focus is on safety heading into the season


FAMILIES ON SHORE AND AT SEA

COLUMN BY TINA COMEAU

For those of us left on shore, we are all nervous. The lump in our throats may subside in a week. Or if not, maybe by May 31 – the last day of the season. A look at the personal side of the fishery by our Tri-County Vanguard lead editor.

• TINA COMEAU: Families on shore and at sea – the personal side of the industry


FUELLING BELLIES

BY CARLA ALLEN

When the sea’s a-heaving and the boat’s a’rollin so hard you can’t even boil a pot of water on the stove, the crew still needs to be fed. That job has become easier for many, thanks to businesses and individuals helping to take the responsibility off family members who’ve supplied home-cooked meals in the past.

• Hungry crews filling up on locally prepared grub in southwestern Nova Scotia


AQUACULTURE STUDY

BY KATHY JOHNSON

While there were no real surprises in the findings, for the first time lobster fishermen’s concerns about the impact of finfish aquaculture on the lobster fishery have been documented in a scientific manner.

• Study documents lobster fishermen’s concerns with finfish aquaculture


PLASTIC LOBSTER TRAPS

BY KATHY JOHNSON

With a projected lifespan of at least 10 years, longevity is the biggest feature of a new-age plastic lobster trap that should appeal to fishermen, says Yarmouth developer Scott Dauphine. Looking to bring fishermen onboard with new trap.

• Plastic lobster traps boost longevity, says Yarmouth developer


LOBSTER POT TREE

BY KATHY JOHNSON

A tree in Barrington made each year out of lobster traps tells a tale of community and a tale of the sea. A community tradition since 2009, for the past four years buoys in memory of those lost at sea, fishermen who have passed on and in recognition of those that are fishing on the water have been added as part of the tradition. “For some families it’s hard to put that buoy on the tree, but for others its very comforting to come and see that,” says Suzy Atwood.

• Barrington’s lobster pot tree celebrates the season and tells the story of the sea


LOOKING BACK AT LIVE WELL CHALLENGE

BY KATHY JOHNSON

This fishermen’s charity challenge one for the books. It is estimated that more than $1 million was raised for charities. “I never thought it would go that far,” says Todd Newell, the Cape Sable Island fisherman who initiated the challenge. “I hope they felt half the pride I felt.”

• Estimated that $1 million was raised for charity during the Live Well Challenge


DID YOU KNOW?

Lobster fishing areas (LFAs) in Atlantic Canada.
Lobster fishing areas (LFAs) in Atlantic Canada.


• The commercial lobster fishing in LFA 34 off southwest Nova Scotia has the highest landings and the most participants of any LFA (lobster fishing area) in Canada.

• The fishery is managed by input controls including a minimum legal size (82.5 millimetres), prohibition on landing of both egg-bearing and V-notched females, limited entry, a season between the last Monday in November through to May 31, and a trap limit.

• Other management measures include the requirement for escape vents for sublegal sizes and biodegradable trap mechanisms to mitigate ghost fishing by lost traps.

• Due to the risks associated with vessels leaving the wharfs loaded with traps and gear on the first day, and the possibility of mechanical breakdowns as well, several resources in the air and on the sea are always deployed on the opening day of the season to provide assistance if needed. This includes Coast Guard and DFO vessels and military aircraft.

• Boats in LFA 34 leave the wharfs at 6 a.m. on dumping day. Boats in LFA 33 along the province’s south shore leave at 7 a.m. on dumping day. Fishermen are later permitted to begin hauling traps at one minute after midnight.

Recent Stories