Lobster fishing season begins Monday, November 28, in Southwestern Nova Scotia. Dumping Day, as it is known in lobster fishing areas 33 and 34, brings excitement and opportunity – but also great risk.
Boats are often loaded with traps and gear, and crews must be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions.
“Boarding boats in the cold and dark, at the mercy of the weather and the sea, makes fishing dangerous work. Safety is a crucial priority,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Steve Craig. “One tragedy is one too many, so we urge fishing captains and crews to make sure they follow their safety training and take every precaution so they are able to come home safely to their loved ones.”
Fishing crews preparing to head out each morning should:
- monitor the weather
- assess their boats
- examine their safety gear and check on others on board
- stay on the lookout for potential working hazards
- wear personal flotation devices
- stay prepared for emergencies.
As lobster harvesters prepare for the start of the fishing season, we want to wish them the best this season and remind them to keep safety top of mind. Working on and around water comes with risks, and through education, training and prevention, captains and their crews can continue to improve the safety of their vessels. By prioritizing safety, we continue to remember those who tragically did not return home and their families who mourn their loss.
Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration
Ensuring that safety is a priority in the fishing industry has been our commitment for many years. That’s why we work closely with our partners to do all we can to make sure captain and crew come home to their families. We have seen significant improvements in safety, but there are still tragedies that remind us we need to do more. As crews set out, we encourage them to do everything they can to make it back to the wharf safely each day.
Stuart MacLean, CEO, WCB Nova Scotia
Commercial fishing comes with several inherent risks. However, our industry has made significant progress over the last decade toward a safer fishery. Captains are reminded to always ensure you and your crew wear a personal floatation device (PFD). Prior to Dumping Day and during the season, inspect all onboard safety equipment, and familiarize your crew with your EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), immersion suits and fire extinguishers. I also encourage captains to regularly monitor weather and sea conditions prior to departure and, if possible, during your trip. The entire team at Fish Safe NS wishes all the captains and crews a very safe season.
Matthew Duffy, Executive Director, Fish Safe NS
- occupational health and safety laws require fishing crews to wear a life jacket or other personal flotation device
- since 2016, there have been 1,400 fishing-related initiatives including man overboard drills, Safety Dock talks and Are You Ready? wharf visits
- each year, Labour, Skills and Immigration, WCB Nova Scotia, Fish Safe NS and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council partner to deliver a fishing safety awareness campaign to remind captains, crew and families of the importance of wearing a PFD while on or near the water
- Nova Scotia’s seafood industry is the province’s largest exporter and Canada’s top seafood exporter, with $2.5 billion in exports in 2021
Fishers can register their EPIRB to themselves and their vessel owner by calling 1-877-406-7671 or emailing CBR@sarnet.dnd.ca
Fish Safe NS:
Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council: https://www.nsfsc.ca/
On-Board Familiarization and Training Checklist: https://www.worksafeforlife.ca/Portals/WorkSafeForLifeRedesign/Documents/On-Board%20Familiarization%20and%20Training%20Checklist.pdf?ver=2021-11-05-151037-447
Nova Scotia Seafood: https://nsseafood.com/
Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board: https://fishloan.novascotia.ca/