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A front-row seat to Dumping Day 2019

Friday, November 29th 2019, 3:33 pm - The first day of the 2019 lobster season was delayed in Nova Scotia due to high winds from a storm that blew over the region, whipping up water along the coast.

Captain James Nickerson has been fishing in the area since he was 19 years old and says weather protocols have changed drastically over his 30-year career. He tells me he was thankful for the delayed start to the 2019 lobster season.

"It was calling for under 25 knots that's why we're leaving the wharf today," he told me in the early morning hours on November 26.

"Anything over 25 knots ... we can't go. That's the rule that they put in place a few years ago and one of the best rules they ever put in place."

Zones 33 and 34 in southwestern Nova Scotia are Canada's most lucrative lobster fishing grounds, hauling in landed value of roughly $500 million (CAD) last season alone.

With more than 1,500 boats preparing to set out at the same time, the rush will soon be on to get to a prime spot.

Nickerson has received a hefty fine in the past for leaving too early. This year, he waits until the allotted time of 7 a.m. and then, it's off to the races.

Location is everything and he's headed to a shoal that's 29 km offshore.


Some boats drop their traps much closer to the shoreline but Nickerson likes to be further out in deeper water so the incoming wind storms that are becoming more frequent don't damage his pots during high tides.

As he steers to the spot, his three crew members face the daunting task of preparing the traps for launch while bobbing up and down in a large and hazardous sea state left behind from the storm that postponed the start of the season.

There is a tension in the air as the clock ticks on while other boats catch up to drop their pots nearby.

When all the pots are down, it's back to the wharf in Clark's Harbour to reload and drop more.

There's no break on Dumping Day.

With another storm coming, Nickerson keeps a close eye on The Weather Network to help manage his decisions.

"Thanks to you guys I guess, we know what the weather's gonna be before it gets to us so that makes it a lot better."

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