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Following weather delay lobster fishery will get underway on Saturday, Dec. 1

2017 dumping day in southwestern NS got off to a start the early morning of Nov. 28. This was the scene in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County NS. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
2017 dumping day in southwestern NS got off to a start the early morning of Nov. 28. This was the scene in Pinkney's Point, Yarmouth County NS. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

YARMOUTH, N.S. – The lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia and along the province’s south shore will open on Saturday.

Under ideal weather conditions the season would have begun on Monday, Nov. 26, but winds this week pushed the start of the season back to Dec. 1.

In LFA 34 (which takes in all of Yarmouth County and parts of Shelburne and Digby counties) boats will leave their wharfs at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

In LFA 33, which extends from Shelburne County to Halifax County, boats will depart at 7 a.m.

The official decision on what day the season will start on is always based on safety.

In the last two seasons the opening of the fishery was delayed by one day due to high winds. In 2014, the season start was delayed by six days due to the weather.

LFA 33 had confirmed this Saturday's start date during a Wednesday morning conference call. LFA 34 confirmed the start day during a Thursday morning conference call.

On dumping day, fishing crews head out to the fishing grounds with boats heavily loaded with traps, rope, buoys and other gear. It is seen as the most risky day of the six-month season. Around 5,000 fishers will be on boats when the season starts.

READ THE TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD'S COLLECTION OF 2018 LOBSTER OUTLOOK STORIES BY CLICKING HERE

Man overboard drills were held this fall to introduce fishermen to safety equipment that exists and to demonstrate techniques for getting people back safely onto a vessel if they fall overboard, or best practices if crews have to abandon a vessel.

It was also noted during these drills that the provincial Department of Labour has said it will be stepping up enforcement of the regulation to wear PFDs when the season opens with an increased presence on wharfs in the area and additional officers.

While safety onboard individual vessels is a message drilled home throughout the season and leading up to the start of it, the opening of the season also sees a large number of search and rescue assets tasked to the region.

A full complement of Search and Rescue (SAR) resources will be on the water and standing by when the commercial lobster fishery in LFAs 33 and 34 opens.

“We’re in the business of planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Marc Ouellette, Canadian Coast Guard Regional Supervisor for Maritime Search and Rescue at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Halifax, in an interview prior to the start of the season.

Assets being tasked includes adding extra crews to coast guard lifeboat stations; having zodiacs and fast rescue crafts at the ready in addition to having coast guard cutters patrolling the area. Two offshore Coast Guard patrol vessels are strategically placed on the fishing grounds and the Coast Guard Auxiliary is an asset that will be used if required. There will also be assets in the air with a fixed wing Hercules and a Cormorant helicopter in the air or on standby.

During a fall lobster forum fishermen were told that markets conditions for live lobster exports appear to be prime heading into the season opening for LFAs 33 and 34. Export markets to Europe and China are strong, as is the U.S. economy.

“I think we’re looking at a relatively healthy season in the fall,” said John Sackton, founder of seafood.com at the fall SWNS Lobster Forum in Yarmouth.

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