Fishermen confirmed many of the lobsters – whose smell and current infestation with insects and maggots show are newly dumped – are below legal harvesting size, and others are female, in addition to having been fished off-season, all of which is illegal at the commercial level.
David Whorley, DFO manager for southwestern Nova Scotia, expressed concern with the findings.
“We’ve been made aware and are following up with these incidents. It’s distressing, to be frank, and we are taking this very seriously,” he said.
The dumping sites
Lobster carcasses have been found in several locations around Weymouth, including three known piles on Briggs Road, over fifteen on Lombard Road, and around 30 piles along Weymouth River’s west side.
The land along both Briggs and Lombard roads has belonged Digby County resident Ben Robicheau and his family for over 50 years. He heard the night of September 14 that dumps had happened on the land.
While dumping of litter and trash is common, Robicheau says, “we’ve never seen any lobster dumped here before.”
Most of the dumps are located near existing, natural bumps and lumps in the forest. Some no longer smell and are sun-bleached, while others give off a rancid smell, are dark in colour and have bugs swirling around them.
“I’m no expert, but even I can tell these are fresh. Some look like they have meat in them and some don’t. I don’t know why that is, but it’s strange,” said Robicheau.
Demonstration, then dumping
The dumping of these lobsters coincides with demonstrations that have happened across the region as lobster fishermen have gathered at local DFO offices, including one in Digby, to push for tighter conservation enforcement.
The lobsters' origin, along with who dumped them, is unknown. It is also not known if the dumping is in any way related to ongoing protests in the area.
The fishermen have been adamant their main wish is for proper enforcement of fishing regulations to sustain lobster stocks.
“We’re about conservation. That’s it,” said Matthew Theriault, a lobster fishermen and acting spokesperson for the Digby demonstration.
News of the dumpings has made fishermen participating even more wary of what they see as lacking enforcement.
The group is set to meet with DFO regional managers today to discuss their concerns.
If their concerns aren’t resolved by Monday, the group says it will continue demonstrations and will itself increase efforts to enforce.