High winds havoc
Harsh blow dealt to Cape Breton lobster fishers
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.
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.
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.
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.