Rough seas destroy traps, kill lobster in Cape Breton
Fisherman also worried that many female lobsters killed before they could lay eggs
The lobster season along some parts of the eastern shore of Cape Breton has taken a devastating turn after getting off to a good start last week.
Rough seas caused by heavy north winds damaged hundreds of traps, washing many ashore, according to people in the industry.
"It was unreal," said Glace Bay fisherman Herb Nash, who described it as the worst destruction of fishing gear he has witnessed since the 1970s.
He was particularly upset by what he saw along the shoreline between Donkin and Port Morien.
"When we walked the beach there were all kinds of spawning lobsters dead on the beach, lobsters broke apart," he said.
'That's going to hurt us'
Most fishermen in the area will likely lose more than half their traps, said Nash. But while the equipment can be replaced, the same can't be said for the lobsters.
He said a large proportion of lobster that washed up on shore were females full of eggs. Because such a large number died before they could drop their eggs, he worries about a long-term loss in population.
"That's going to hurt us for the next seven or eight years. That would have been the lobster coming in to the fishery. That's going to be our biggest loss."
'We were pretty fortunate'
Not all parts of Area 27, which extends from Bay St. Lawrence to Fourchu, were hard hit by the northerly winds.
"We were pretty fortunate," said Merrill MacInnis, who fishes out of Little River Harbour along the North Shore.
"But they had extensive damage in Bay St. Lawrence and around there," he said, noting that he'd heard reports of some fishermen losing as many as 200 traps.
Nash said he and his fellow fishermen will order new traps from manufacturers in Prince Edward Island and, in some cases, from Cape Breton fishermen who have traps to spare.
At between $50 and $75 to replace each one, it will be expensive, but he expects everyone will be back up to their full complement of 275 traps in a week's time.