Fishermen are still at the mercy of Mother Nature

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This winter has been long with lots of snow and ice to contend with and the ice is still heavy in parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence which could make it difficult for lobster fishermen to set traps in a little less than seven weeks when the season is scheduled to. 

It has been a few years since the season opening has been delayed by ice, but spring is fast approaching and the wharves along the Island’s north shore are still clogged with snow and in the case of Covehead Harbour Saturday ice is clogging the harbor and is jammed onto the shore.

 Depending on Mother Nature this could all change if the temperature warms up and favourable winds blow the ice away from harbor mouths and off the lobster grounds.

But fishermen today can take heart from the following story written by Frank Weeks and published in The Guardian May 29, 1961.

“Lobster fishermen in Alberton and Tignish set their traps on 30 May 1961, possibly the latest date ever recorded for the spring season in West Prince. Weeks of unfavourable weather, high north easterly winds and heavy ice have plagued the fishermen and most had almost given up hope of ever setting their traps in the water as they cannot even go out of their harbours to set herring nets to catch bait.

“An extensive field of ice is reported 15 miles off Tignish in an easterly direction. A northeast wind last night was threatening to return the ice field to the coast with a possible heavy loss of equipment. Some fishermen were planning to pick up their traps as soon as the ice was sighted.”

It been a few years since season delated by heavy ice

In his story, Weeks writes of some of the older fishermen who remember times when they had to fish lobster through the ice and special gear had to be used.

“They say it has been 50 years since they were forced to fish lobsters through the ice.  Back in the years around 1911 they had several seasons in a row when they were forced to develop techniques to meet ice conditions. One old-time fisherman who could recall those days used the old technique successfully this year and so far has not lost a trap. It involves discarding the usual type marker buoy and using a long pole counter balanced in such a manner that when ice hits it simply rides flat only to resume its upright position when the ice passes.”

But then just as now prices were never far from minds of fishermen.

"Fishermen expect lobster catches to be poor on the first day as the water is too rough and cold for lobsters to be on the move.  It is expected to take another week, that is an astounding delay until June 7 before the lobster will start moving around in search for food." 

Geographic location: Tignish, Iceland, Alberton West Prince

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  • The Urban Oysterman
    March 16, 2014 - 09:06

    This might just be the trick for fairer price. Mother Nature the foremost negotiato!