High winds havoc

Harsh blow dealt to Cape Bre­ton lob­ster fish­ers

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY GREG MCNEIL CAPE BRE­TON POST

High winds con­tinue to deal a harsh blow to Area 27 lob­ster fish­ers this sea­son.

Af­ter winds first de­layed the start of the sea­son by two days last week, fish­er­men in har­bours from Alder Point to Port Morien have lost thou­sands of dol­lars and their time af­ter traps were blown on shore and smashed by more winds this past week­end.

“There’s hardly any gear left any­where,” said Bill MacDon­ald, cap­tain of the U-No, while de­part­ing Glace Bay har­bour to re-set some of his traps.

“We got about 70 traps back this morn­ing. There’s still a few out there but they are bro­ken.”

Work­ers at the dock at

Glace Bay har­bour said the dam­age they have heard about is wide­spread.

“Some peo­ple are say­ing they are wiped out,” said Mar­cel Gaigneur.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it like this.”

Ni­cholas Truck­air spent much of Tues­day in a dory pa­trolling the wa­ters around Glace Bay har­bour in search of traps blown close to shore so that he could drag them back out to where big­ger boats could grab them.

“At least a cou­ple of hun­dred traps were bro­ken and prob­a­bly a thou­sand buoys washed in around the wa­ter where the big­ger boats couldn’t get them,” he said.

“It’s been sad be­cause I know what it is like to lose traps with my fam­ily. They’ll have to re­build them and take them out again.”

Strong northerly winds are be­ing blamed for the dam­age, mostly felt in har­bours such as North Syd­ney, Glace Bay, Lin­gan and Port Morien. Those who fish around Gabarus, Fourchu and In­go­nish are thought to have been un­af­fected.

Herb Nash, who has fished for the past 53 years, hasn’t seen such wind-re­lated dam­age since the early 1970s.

His es­ti­mates are that fish­er­men have lost about 150 traps each on av­er­age, not to men­tion the as­so­ci­ated gear such as rope and buoys.

The worst part is the amount of lob­ster found on the beach, though.

“That first two days we saw a lot of fe­males with eggs on them that would have been spawn­ing this year. It’s the most we have ever seen,” said Nash, who scoured the shores

around Glace Bay look­ing for traps to sal­vage and lob­ster to save.

“Ev­ery trap had two or three (lob­ster) the first two days and the beach is just filled with lob­ster that are beat up and bro­ken up in parts and dead. There’s a lot of fe­males that were de­stroyed on the beach.”

Re­plac­ing bro­ken traps could cost each fish­er­man a week of their time and about $12,000 each, if you can find any new traps to buy.

He ex­pects the death of those spawn­ing fe­male lob­ster to “haunt” the in­dus­try for the next nine or 10 years.

“The sea­weed has come in and buried a lot the traps on the beach that the fish­er­men couldn’t get. There’s lob­ster in there that are go­ing to die. It’s a sin. The big­gest cost of ev­ery­thing in what we are los­ing on the beach is the lob­ster, the fe­male (lob­ster) with all those eggs.”

Even though the early sea­son has al­ready seen a pair of wind-re­lated set­backs, Nash doesn’t ex­pect any ex­ten­sions to be granted be­cause of the most re­cent dam­age.

“I don’t think they’ll give it be­cause only three or four har­bours were af­fected. The oth­ers were fish­ing away. I don’t think they will give it to three har­bours. They won’t worry about us. If it was ev­ery­body, they might.”

The set­back comes af­ter strong catches were re­ported to start the first two days of the new sea­son.

Lob­ster fish­ers have been re­ceiv­ing shore prices of around $8 a pound so far this sea­son. That’s a con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ence over prices last year when the sea­son opened at $6.25.

GREG MCNEIL/CAPE BRE­TON POST

A pair of lob­ster traps that have washed ashore near Schooner Pond in Donkin are shown. Off in the dis­tance is a lob­ster boat set­ting more traps. High winds washed many traps ashore this week­end.

Truck­air

GREG MCNEIL/CAPE BRE­TON POST

At Glace Bay har­bour the crew of the U-No pre­pares some new traps to take back out to sea. High winds washed many traps ashore over the week­end.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/FACE­BOOK

Dam­aged lob­ster traps lay strewn along the shore­line near Donkin on Mon­day. Strong northerly winds gust­ing over 70 km/h over the week­end washed hun­dreds of lob­ster traps on shore from Bay St. Lawrence to Louis­bourg.

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