DIGBY, NS – The Digby Wharf is looking even more colourful than usual as boats are stacked high with lobster traps, rope and buoys for this year’s Dumping Day on October 14.
Chris Hersey is the captain of the Miss Addie, which he runs with crewmates Spencer Wyatt, Roger Messenger and Mark Hersey, and is putting the final touches on the gear aboard his boat to get it ready for its first day on the water this season.
He spent around twelve hours total setting everything up, and make six truck trips to get the buoys down to the wharf. It’s a process each fisherman handles differently, said Hersey.
“One guy showed up two weeks ago. It’s different for everyone, and some people are doing it earlier this year,” says Hersey.
Setting out to sea this season
Dumping Day for the Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 35 is Saturday, October 14. Boats will depart at 6 a.m.
The zone covers a good section of the Bay Fundy from upper Nova Scotia down to Digby, ending right around where the Digby Neck starts.
The departure time is set at different times every year, according to Hersey, to follow half-tide, or two hours before high water, ensuring all boats within the zone have enough time to get out and set their lines and traps.
Wayne Shediac, of Yarmouth, was at the Digby Wharf October 11 to help some friends get ready for the big day.
He says he enjoys sitting back, after 40 years of fishing. He remembers the days when he’d grapple to get everything together.
“There’s a lot you do on shore, and even more you do out on the water,” he says.
“No matter how much you plan, you can never get everything totally ready.”
Ensuring everything is ship shape
Last minute prep, like getting blocks of bait ready, will give fishermen plenty to do Friday before they set out Saturday.
Officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans also carry out boat inspections. According to the Maritimes region’s Acting Director of Conservation and Protection Derek Parsons, officers do routine checks at wharves to monitor activity, followed with more routine checks as the season unfolds to make sure the Fisheries Act and its regulations are followed.
“During an inspection multiple items are checked. Officers look to ensure that licenses and registration are in order, that fishing gear, such as traps, meet proper specifications and are properly identified, and that fishers have their required log books, among other things,” he says.
The day is also known to be the most dangerous day of the year for fishermen.
Dumping Day is not the only day of the season fishermen face potentially dangerous situations. Last season, 44-year-old Jim Buchanan, who fished out of Lockeport, was lost at sea January 7 as the result of a fishing accident in LFA 34.
LFA 35 is known for waters that lack other areas’ roughness, but the day is not without its risks, even here.
“You have to be careful. Wear your life jackets, be cautious, and just be aware,” says Hersey.