By Sherry Martell
FOR THE SOU’WESTER
BARRACHOIS, N.S. - The spring lobster fishery opened in parts of the Atlantic region on May 1 with more than 600 fishermen heading out into the Northumberland Strait after 6 a.m. to set their traps.
The season was initially scheduled to start April 30, however adverse weather conditions delayed opening by at least one day in several Strait lobster fishing areas.
Fishermen in area 26a from Pugwash to Havre Bouche on Nova Scotia's north shore will land catches for two months until the season closes on June 30.
Last Friday during heavy rain and wind, Barrachois fisherman Scott Buckler was moving forward with boat repairs and getting traps in order. He said then that regardless of the weather delay to the start of the season, he would begin loading traps on his vessel Sunday when extra help is available.
“I’ll be ready to go whenever the season opens,” he said.
This is the first time in two years his vessel Final One has been geared for lobster fishing season.
He said after an extended break from fishing, the water was calling him back.
“It’s a habit,” he said. “The itch came back and I had to go fish.
“I am looking forward to being back on the water but I have zero expectations.”
Catches from Pugwash to Barrachois in the western portion of the lobster fishing area have been lower than average in recent years. Also, low prices and higher bait and fuel costs have presented challenges for fishermen, which may continue this season.
“The price of bait just went through the roof,” said Buckler.
Some types of bait, such as mackerel, is scarce, driving up the price. Other options such as herring are also running high.
Buckler said bait is now selling for about $1 per pound, up more than 30 per cent.
Fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia tied up their vessels late last week in protest to demand a better price for their catch for the remainder of their season, which ends on May 31. The price issue is a concern for Buckler.
“I am concerned because what they get down the shore, we get less than that usually,” he said.
At the end of the 2011 season, fishermen along the north shore were receiving about $5 per pound.
Buckler said it is imperative people support the local fishermen to ensure the industry remains sustainable and viable in this area.