A Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat heads off after checking a lobster boat near Lockeport.
It has been a relatively quiet lobster season so far for fisheries enforcement officers in southwestern Nova Scotia.
In past years, officers have dealt with dozens of violations in Districts 33 and 34 in the first few crucial days of the season, leading to many charges and thousands of dollars in fines for offending fishermen.
This year, only three rule-breaking incidents are under investigation.
Two of the violations are for jumping the gun on the opening day of the lobster season.
In lobster fishing area (LFA) 34 – which Yarmouth County, and parts of Shelburne and Digby counties, falls into – fishing vessels are only permitted to leave the wharf at 6 a.m. on opening day. In neighbouring LFA 33, which covers a large swathe of coast from Shelburne County to Cole Harbour, the start time is 7 a.m. the same day.
Anyone caught leaving the wharf before the permitted time is charged with fishing during a closed time.
David Jennings, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesperson, said that most fishermen understand why enforcement is needed and offered that it was a good sign that fewer appeared to be breaking the rules.
He said one fisherman from the Yarmouth area (District 34) and one from the Shelburne area (District 33) were caught jumping the gun this year. Another case, this one with a fisherman in the Barrington area, involved undersized lobsters.
In southwestern Nova Scotia, fishermen have seen higher fines handed down by the court over the years, reaching over $1,200 for captains who leave the wharf before the permitted time. Fines rise higher if captains have records that include other Fisheries Act convictions.