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Nov. 25 opening of lobster season in southwest Nova Scotia delayed by weather

Dumping day morning 2018 in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Dumping day morning 2018 in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
YARMOUTH, N.S. —

The opening of the lobster fishing season in southwestern Nova Scotia will be delayed due to forecasted winds.

Dumping day traditionally takes place on the last Monday of November, weather permitting. This year the weather will not permit that to happen.

Years ago, DFO and the LFA 34 industry advisory committee put in place an opening day protocol that dictates any winds forecasted above 25 knots will automatically trigger a postponement to the opening of the season in LFA 34, which takes in southwestern Nova Scotia. That protocol has kicked in given the forecast for Monday, Nov. 25.

In LFA 33 on the province's south shore boats will also stay ashore Monday.

As an LFA 34 industry conference call was underway Saturday morning, a gale warning for the region was also already in effect, with winds increasing to southwest 35 Sunday afternoon and diminishing to southwest 25 Sunday evening, but the Environment Canada marine forecast for was calling for westerly wind of 35 knots to on Monday, diminishing to westerly 20 late in the day.

Another industry conference call will take place Sunday morning to further discuss when the season will open and if Tuesday is a possibility. It was felt during the Saturday morning conference call that it was too early to decide on that now as weather systems may change. An industry rep posted after that conference call the following: A decision was not made Sunday for the LFA 34 opener as Tuesday morning winds/wave height are being unpredictable. Another call will be held Monday morning at 8 a.m.

Last year the weather pushed back the opening of the season from Monday, Nov. 26 to Saturday, Dec. 1.

On the opening day of the season fishing boats in Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 34 are able to leave the wharves at 6 a.m. in and they are permitted to leave at 7 a.m. in LFA 33.

Safety is always a priority for the season's start. A full compliment of Search and Rescue (SAR) resources will be deployed and on stand-by for the season opening. Leading into the season the Tri-County Vanguard newsroom was told offshore there will be two Canadian Coast Guard platforms, strategically placed on the fishing grounds, one in the western zone somewhere off Yarmouth, and the other on the eastern end between Halifax and Clark’s Harbour.

Second crews will also be brought in to the three small lifeboat stations in Sambro, Clark’s Harbour and West Port to be on stand-by at the station where they will have access to the stations’ zodiacs or fast rescue crafts (FRC) if tasked, and to assist the first crew who will be out on patrol in the Arun class cutters.

Fisheries conservation and protection boats that will be out on the water during the opening can also be tasked for SAR duties.

The Canadian Air Force will task a fixed wing Hercules and a helicopter out of Greenwood for the opening. The chopper will be on stand-by in Yarmouth, while the Hercules will either be on patrol or on 30-minute standby at Greenwood.

It’s been busy in communities throughout the region as fishermen and industry stakeholders get ready for dumping day and the all-important start to the season.

With fishermen in LFA 35 getting $10 a pound for their catch this fall, “we expect a strong shore price,” said Bernie Berry president of the Coldwater Lobster Association.

“Maybe a record shore price,” said Berry. “There’s no reason not to expect it. Conditions are good. There’s not a lot of product around. Even the processors don’t have a lot on hand, so there’s a lot of space to fill. The markets are strong so we’re hoping we achieve another record opening price.”

Last year the shore price in LFAs 33 and 34 went from $7 to $9 within the first two weeks of the season because of lower landings.

The catch in LFA 35 has been down this fall, but landings seem to be holding and reports are quality has been good, said Berry.

The lobster fishery in LFAs 36 and 38 is also now open, said Berry, noting while “a good portion” of the Grand Manan district is closed because of the presence of two right whales, the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association has a pilot project going that is allowing them to fish in that closed area by reducing the number of vertical lines in the water.

“Hopefully it works and maybe it’s something LFA 33 and 34 can look at next year just in case we ever have a closure,” said Berry. “There are still right whales in the Gulf. I know they’ve got to go past us so hopefully they keep swimming on down and enjoy their winter grounds.”

READ ALSO: 'Tis the season: Gearing up for the lobster season opening in western Nova Scotia

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