Start of lobster-fishing season was postponed to Dec. 1 due to weather
The opening of the lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia was delayed almost a week due to weather concerns. Had conditions been good, the season would have started Monday, Nov. 26, but forecasts of windy weather resulted in dumping day being postponed to Dec. 1, following numerous conference calls in which the weather situation was discussed. The official decision on what day the season will start is always based on safety.
In the previous two years, the opening of the lobster season had been delayed by a day due to high winds. In 2014, the season’s start had been delayed by six days because of weather concerns. On dumping day, fishing crews head out to the fishing grounds with boats heavily loaded with traps, rope, buoys and other gear. It is considered the riskiest day of the six-month season.
Coast guard was busy with tows and medical assists as lobster fishery began
The coast guard responded to five medical cases on fishing vessels, two electrical fires and two boats that were taking on water during dumping day weekend. In addition, seven boats were disabled and needed to be towed.
Marc Ouelette, maritime search and rescue regional supervisor with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, said the amount of activity was typical for the opening of the lobster season. He said pre-planning for the start of the season was very similar to past years. “The assets that were out there this year were almost identical to what we had in previous years,” he said. “Luckily, everything ended up going well and there weren’t any fatalities.”
Underscoring the importance of proper training and safety gear for fishermen, he cited the example of a vessel that sank in Hacketts Cove (LFA 33), where crew members had immersion suits and were in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes. “When they have the proper training and equipment, it makes our job a lot easier and it gives them that extra chance of survival,” Ouellette said.
Catches were down but prices were up after first week
Shore prices were record-setting for the first week of the lobster season, going from $6 to $6.25 on the first landing day (Dec. 2) to $8 by Dec. 7. However, prices were driven by an estimated 30 to 40 per cent decrease in lobster landings compared to the same time period the previous year. Lockeport lobster buyer Mike Cotter estimated that the catch in LFA 33 was down about 30 per cent while in LFA 34 landings were down by as much as 40 per cent.
Sea conditions that had delayed the start of the season by five days, along with cold water temperatures, were factors impacting the catch, Cotter said. It was too early to tell if there would be a market supply problem, he said. Leo Muise, executive director of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, said from talking to his members, it seemed the quality of the catch for the season’s first week was better than that of recent years.
Bigger loans, faster turn-around times included in new loan board regulations
Changes to regulations for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board were announced in Yarmouth. The updated regulations include reduced loan approval wait times and increased lending limits (from $1 million to $5 million). The goal is to expand options and to eliminate financial barriers that have prevented people – particularly younger fishermen – from taking a risk in seeking big loans to get into the industry and/or improve their enterprises.
Those on hand for the announced changes included Denny Morrow, chairman of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board. “Over the coming months we will be developing some policies to implement these regulations for the processing sector, for boatbuilders and also for aquaculture businesses in the province,” Morrow said. “But the real thrust of this is to provide better financing, better products, faster turn-around times, better service to the fishermen who are the core clients for the loan board.” The changes were announced by Zach Churchill, Yarmouth MLA and Nova Scotia’s minister of education and early childhood development, on behalf of Keith Colwell, the province’s fisheries and aquaculture minister.
Another municipal unit expressed support for inquiry into offshore exploration risks
The Municipality of Barrington added its voice to those calling for a moratorium on further offshore exploration pending a full federal/provincial public inquiry into the risks of offshore petroleum development in waters off Nova Scotia. The call for a public inquiry had been initiated by the Offshore Alliance, a coalition of fisher, social justice and environmental groups, as well as communities and individuals with concerns about offshore drilling. The integrity of the regulatory regime had been identified as an issue as well.
Members of the alliance, such as the Clean Ocean Action Committee, had been lobbying municipal units along the south shore and in southwestern Nova Scotia for support. A number of units had expressed their support.
“This a reasonable request,” said COAC executive director John Davis in a presentation to Barrington municipal council. “We just want to know what the risks are and we want to make the assessment if those risks are reasonable.”
Municipal units were upset with province’s reversal on ban on plastic bags
As 2018 was winding down, the question remained of what to do with single-use plastic bags. Earlier in the year, the province had been looking to ban the bags and had been seeking support for the initiative from municipal units, which it got. But then in the fall, word came that the province no longer was pursuing a ban. Municipal government reps were upset with the province’s reversal.
“Municipalities have worked really hard to obtain consensus, not easily achieved on most subjects, to support the province,” said Leland Anthony, warden of the Municipality of Yarmouth and chair of the Nova Scotia Solid-Waste Resource Management Regional Chairs Committee. He made the remarks in a letter to Margaret Miller, the province’s new environment minister. Miller responded by saying she was “encouraged that new, innovative uses and new markets for these (plastic) materials have emerged in the last year. Retailers are taking new approaches and consumers are changing how they shop.”
Historic lens returned to Cape Sable Island
A long-lost light from the Cape Sable lighthouse was now in Clark’s Harbour after spending years crated in storage in a government building on the Saint John waterfront. Found in the fall of 2018 when the building was being cleaned out for demolition, the light was returned to Nova Scotia by the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and given to the Town of Clark’s Harbour. (The town has been instrumental in preserving the Cape Sable lighthouse through the Friends of the Cape Light group.)
The light was delivered to Clark’s Harbour by Joe Flemming, president of the lighthouse preservation society, and his son Zach. There were 19 crates, as well as the mechanical equipment that holds and supports the lens. It was to be stored in the warehouse of a local business for the time being. It was expected that during the winter work would begin on cleaning the light’s many components, from the smallest pieces to light panels and everything in between. “It’s an incredible find,” Flemming said. “The engineering is just amazing.”
Having ferry back was ‘hugely important’ in decision to reopen Colony hotel in Yarmouth
As the year was drawing to a close, there was good news for the tourism industry as Rodd Hotels and Resorts were planning to reopen the Rodd Colony Harbour Inn in Yarmouth.
Company president Mark Rodd said the property had been examined by engineers in the fall. “We came to the conclusion that the business is there to take the step and open the Rodd Colony again,” Rodd said. The target date for reopening is the summer of 2019. The company is looking to reopen the Colony restaurant too, but Rodd couldn’t give a timeframe for that. The cost of renovations to the Colony to get it ready to open – excluding the restaurant – was expected to be close to $2.5 million. The Colony had closed in January 2011 after operating for 40 years. That was after Yarmouth had experienced its first summer with no ferry. The loss of the ferry and a slumping economy were cited at the time as reasons for the Colony’s closure. Rodd said having a ferry service again between Nova Scotia and the U.S. was “hugely important” in the decision to reopen the Colony.
Dismantling the past by hand: Digby County church being dismantled without heavy machinery
As you crest the hill a short distance away before crossing into Plympton, Digby County, there it stands.
Well, what’s left of it.
If it’s a sunny day you can see the blue sky on the other side through the walls that were once covered in boards and windows. Now there’s just openings where those windows once adorned the walls. And inside the wood craftsmanship that was hidden beneath finished ceilings is both massive and impressive.
This was a structure that was built to last.
The Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Plympton, Digby County, closed years ago and now it is being taken apart. After being temporarily closed at the end of 2013, its final service was held in July 2014 when a deconsecration took place to remove the blessing from the church and the land that the building sits on. At that time it was known that the building would be demolished one day in the future.
Tasked with this job now is Stan Atwell of Anything and Everything Demotion and Recycling. For the past six months he has been demolishing the structure by hand.
Yes, you read that correctly – by hand.
'We're satisfied it's a delay only': Bay Ferries Bar Harbor plans hit a snag
Bay Ferries is keeping an eye on a “snag” that has necessitated a delay in the process of officially making a final decision on where The Cat ferry will sail to and from next year.
The ferry company is looking to move from the port of Portland to the port of Bar Harbor.
The town of Bar Harbor has been in the process of purchasing the ferry terminal property, voting earlier this year to do so. Bar Harbor’s town manager Cornell Knight first reported to Bar Harbor town council in late November that Governor Paul LePage was refusing to sign the deed for the town’s purchase of the former ferry terminal property unless there is a slight change to wording of a section contained in the document.
“We're satisfied it's a delay only,” said Mark MacDonald, president and CEO of Bay Ferries when asked for comment.