Strange season: COVID-19 and rough weather impact lobster fishery

By Lois Ann Dort    
May 27 2020

The lobster season in the eastern end of Guysborough County (Lobster Fishing Areas 31A and 31B) has reached the midway mark of the eight-week season. With an uncertain start due to COVID-19 concerns, the season has been less than ideal with high winds and, as of last week, falling prices.

Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association manager Ginny Boudreau spoke with The Journal about the season to date on Monday, May 25. That day, lobsters were selling for $5 a pound. Prior to the opening of the Gulf and Cape Breton fishery in mid-May, the price had been $6. “We’re holding at five and we’re praying very feverishly that it stays at five, because if it goes below five then we’re in a different situation all together. Then you’ll see guys, some will put ashore.”

Along with a lower than hoped for price this season, catches have been low in all areas, said Boudreau. “We had unbelievable tides and storm after storm. We had that hurricane on the 9th (of May)…a lot of people lost 50 per cent of their gear. We were a whole week finding gear and replacing gear. We’ve never given out this many sets of replacement tags,” she said, adding that those using wooden gear were extremely hard hit.

The reduction in landings due to weather conditions had kept the price at $6 until other fishing areas opened because, Boudreau said, “There’s no inventory anywhere. It’s not like there are any lobsters stockpiled anywhere.”

Another change this year due to COVID-19 is the regulation that wharves are not open to the public. In the past, community members gathered at the wharf to buy directly from fishers when they landed the catch. Only fishery workers, and support industry workers such as fuel trucks, are currently allowed on wharves. Members of the public who want to buy lobsters should make arrangements with fishers to pick up at a location other than the wharf.