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Safe opening day to lobster season off southwestern N.S.; some calls for assistance on Day 2

A Cormorant helicopter at the Yarmouth airport the morning of Nov. 28, after airlifting a 25-year-old fisherman, reported to be suffering from seizures, from a lobster vessel for transport to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. TINA COMEAU
A Cormorant helicopter at the Yarmouth airport the morning of Nov. 28, after airlifting a 25-year-old fisherman, reported to be suffering from seizures, from a lobster vessel for transport to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. TINA COMEAU

SOUTHWESTERN N.S. – Dumping day, the most risky day of the six-month lobster fishery off southwestern Nova Scotia, was reported to have been a safe day with no incidents occurring.

But day two of the season has not been incident free while vessels have been on the water hauling up catches.

While the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) says there were no incidents reported to it, and no assets needed to be tasked, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, the day the lobster season got underway, this wasn't the case the following day.

On Wednesday morning JRCC – which coordinated a number of assistance calls – responded to a call for assistance involving an incident onboard the vessel Princess Paisley. A 25-year-old was reported to have been suffering from seizures. The fishing vessel was about eight nautical miles off of Cape Sale Island when a helicopter arrived on the scene. The man was airlifted off of the vessel.

“It was the 413 Squadron Cormorant that went out,” JRCC public affairs spokesperson Army Captain Marc Greatti said. “They hoisted the patient and transferred him to Yarmouth hospital.”

Another fisherman was transported to Yarmouth hospital after being brought to shore on his vessel. There were no details about his condition at the time this story was written.

There was also an incident involving a fishing vessel out of Lockeport. The crew of the fishing boat Stephen and Robert was picked up by the Surf & Turf, captained by Billy Kean after issuing a mayday due to mechanical failure. After ensuring the crew was safe – there were no injuries – Captain Bobby Lloyd went back out to sea with another fisherman and towed the vessel back to port where the necessary repairs were made.

The JRCC said it was not involved in this incident. Army Capt. Greatti says that can often be the case when other fishing vessels are in close proximity and can provide assistance to stricken crews or vessels.

Military, Coast Guard and DFO resources had all been stationed in the region for the start of the season – both in LFAs 33 and 34 – on dumping day. The opening of the season, when vessels head to sea heavily loaded with traps and gear, had been delayed one day due to winds that had been forecasted for Nov. 27.

 

Lobster vessels sail out the mouth of Yarmouth harbour near the Cape Forchu lighthouse on dumping day morning, Nov. 28. ERVIN OLSEN
Lobster vessels sail out the mouth of Yarmouth harbour near the Cape Forchu lighthouse on dumping day morning, Nov. 28. ERVIN OLSEN

 

 

 

After setting their gear at sea on Tuesday, fishermen were able to start hauling up catches at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, which was a windy day.

DFO Area Director David Whorley says delaying the start of the season – normally the last Monday of November – was the right decision.

“The weather wasn’t looking too cooperative but I think with the industry committee I think we got the opening day right. I think we made the right call,” he said. “We're happy with the weather call and the deliberation that industry and Environment Canada and DFO all did together.”

Years ago DFO and the LFA 34 industry advisory committee put in place an opening day protocol that dictates any winds forecasted above 25 knots will automatically trigger a postponement to the opening of the season. In the years prior to the protocol it was a debate in the days leading up to the season if the weather was questionable: Stay or go? How windy is too windy? If you’re going, I’m going too.

Whorley said it’s good to have an opening day protocol in place that was agreed to by industry. He also said he was impressed with the discussions that took place during the daily weather conference calls that took place leading up to the season start.

“We had our first weather call on Friday, Nov. 24. The thing that impresses me is the really strong, practical sense that the industry reps have about the relationship between tide and wind and geography. It’s their workplace,” he said. “They give the Environment Canada guy a good working over. It’s a pretty sophisticated discussion of weather. It’s impressive.”

From an enforcement point of view, the first day of the season went off without a hitch.

“It’s been the best opening day for enforcement,” said Whorley. “Nothing to report.”

(WITH FILES FROM KATHY JOHNSON)

 

The Atlantic Treasures sails in Yarmouth harbour against a sunset backdrop as dumping day draws to a close on Nov. 28 as the fishing season gets underway in southwestern Nova Scotia. TINA COMEAU
The Atlantic Treasures sails in Yarmouth harbour against a sunset backdrop as dumping day draws to a close on Nov. 28 as the fishing season gets underway in southwestern Nova Scotia. TINA COMEAU

 

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