Lobster season begins a day late in N.S.
'Dumping day' began Tuesday morning
Hundreds of lobster fishermen left the wharfs off southwestern Nova Scotia on Tuesday morning for the start of the lobster season, which was delayed by 24 hours due to the weather.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada had delayed the start because high winds — gusting to 50 kilometres an hour — and sea swells would have made setting the lobster traps dangerous.
The CBC's Phonse Jessome reported safety was on the minds of many fishermen on Tuesday, as the Canadian Coast Guard also had several vessels in the water, a Cormorant helicopter was put on standby and a C-130 Hercules patrolled overhead.
Search and rescue crews airlifted a lobster fisherman from a vessel off Digby Neck to Yarmouth in a Cormorant helicopter after he fell overboard into the Bay of Fundy. The fisherman made it back into his boat but was hypothermic.
The C-130 Hercules aircraft also dropped a pump on a parachute to the crew of a lobster boat that was taking on water. The crew members were in survival suits, ready to get into a life-raft when they received the equipment.
That vessel headed back to its home port under its own power, Jessome reported.
The opening of the lobster season is traditionally known as dumping day because fishing vessels, piled with traps and gear, race to the most lucrative areas to set or dump their traps.
Price for this year's catch not settled
The vessel departure times of 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. — depending on location — are enforced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The first traps can't be pulled until after midnight.
The fall and winter fishery typically runs from late November to May and encompasses two lobster fishing areas — 33 and 34 — that represent the largest fishing area in Nova Scotia and runs from Digby to Cole Harbour.
Jessome said fishermen will have to wait until next week before the price of lobster settles for this year.
The price last year started at around $3.50 per pound and increased slightly by season's end.
Fishermen in LFA 34 tried unsuccessfully last year to split the fishing season in two and take a two-month break in January and February to try to reduce the glut of lobster on the market and hopefully drive up prices when catches resumed.
But Fisheries and Oceans Canada rejected the plan, saying there wasn't enough time before the start of the fishing season to make a proper decision about the issue.