Just over an hour before boats in LFA 34 were to leave their wharves for the start of the season on Thursday came word that the wind has delayed the opening of the lobster season yet again.
And later in the day the situation had still not changed. Heading into Thursday evening there was still no opening set for the season which, under good weather conditions, would have opened on Nov. 30.
An emergency conference call took place at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, Dec. 3, given a change in the weather from Wednesday’s forecast. The season was supposed to open at 9 a.m.
“LFA 34 Port Reps have called DFO to request an emergency call at 7:30 a.m. Weather has changed and is not looking safe for dumping. Coast guard are on standby,” read a post on the Coldwater Lobster Association Facebook page around 7:15 a.m.
Shortly before 8 a.m. this was followed up by a post saying it was agreed to postpone the start of the season again “in consideration for everyone’s safety.”
Another industry call happened at 4 p.m. on Thursday to further discuss the situation. The following was posted on the Coldwater Lobster Association's Facebook page after that call:
"The LFA 34 Port Reps held another pre-season weather call at 16:00 hrs today. It's still a no-go. Environment Canada’s meteorologist provided the marine forecast. Tonight: a high pressure to the south with westerly winds 20+ knots, which will become more south-southwest as we go into the evening with winds overnight 20-25 knots. Sea state is showing 2-3 metre waves tonight, subsiding to 1-2 metres in the early morning. Tomorrow (Friday): 20-25 knot winds throughout the day with sea state if 2-3 metres."
Another call is scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m. to determine if a sufficient weather window will allow for an opening on Saturday.
A majority of the fleet was loaded with traps on Saturday, Nov. 28, with traps baited at that same time.
Weather permitting, the season opens the last Monday of November, but on Nov. 30 the forecast called for increasing winds of 25-30 knots during the day, which was followed by a gale warning for Tuesday. It was determined sea states on Wednesday would still be too rough for a safe opening as vessels head to sea heavily loaded with traps and gear.
The Environment Weather marine forecast for lurcher posted – when the season start was cancelled – Thursday morning read: "Wind southwest 20 to 25 knots veering to westerly 20 this morning then backing to southwest 15 this afternoon. Wind increasing to southwest 20 this evening. Wind southwest 20 Friday. Seas 2 to 3 metres subsiding to 1 to 2 this afternoon then building to 2 to 3 near midnight.”
Leading up to the Dec. 3 cancellation of the season’s start there was a variety of comments on social media.
“Still blowing 25 to 30 in Upper Woods Harbour.”
“Blowing hard in Clare.”
“Right now it’s not about the money I just want everyone to come home tonight.”
“A lot can happen in 2 hours, I’d say give it time.”
“Here to west head, water coming over the break water.”
“Traps all baited and loaded. Time to get a going.”
“Enough with the calls it’s time to set are pots.”
“They missed Monday and it was the better day and now today is the next window and gives pretty good day and going to miss it again. Boy, never seen the likes of this in my 28 years of going if we’re waiting for a slicker we’re never going to go.”
"It is what it is. All about safety."
LFA 34 takes in all of Yarmouth County and parts of Shelburne and Digby counties.
The season did start on Monday in LFA 33 along the province’s south shore. That fishing district extends from the eastern end of Shelburne County to Halifax County.
Weather delays in this fishery are not uncommon. Last year the wind delayed the start by a day. In 2014 the weather pushed the opening back from the Monday to the Saturday.
Boats in LFA 34 are permitted to set 375 traps. Many boats do this in one trip. Others do it in two.