Thomas Bower Sitting down with my uncle, Age: 43 Hometown: Cape Island Job: Lobster Fisherman Fishing District: District 34 Boat: Haw “ I don’t enjoy lobster fishing, I love it!”
How long have you been fishing? -23 years. What is your district area? -District 34, the largest one in Nova Scotia. How many traps can you fish? -In the winter, 375. In the spring you get 25 more tags and 25 replacement tags. Do you have your own license and how did you get it? -I have a personal fishing license, someone I fish with has a lobster license. How do you feel about the upcoming season? -Scared about the price and the catch but the lobsters are either there or they aren't. There is talk of an opening price of $4.00, which is 5 cents more than lobsters sold for 23 years ago when I started. Last year they sold for 6 to 8 dollars.
How do you feel about the future of the lobster fishery, is it something your children will continue to do? -There are too many people moving away, and licenses are too expensive. One good thing now is that companies cannot hold a license. People are going to stop if prices are low, 75 families moved west from Cape Island last year, it is risky to know if you will make a living. Is the lobster fishery a necessary part of small town life? -Yes, definitely, if they (the fishermen) aren’t doing anything, no one else is. How much longer do you plan on fishing? -As long as my back will let me, it is a physically demanding job, at least until 55. Do you have any problems with the rules and regulations of the lobster fishery? -Not the lobster fishery, but scallop draggers disrupt the bottom where we lobster, when they could be elsewhere. Do you enjoy lobster fishing? -I don’t enjoy it, I love it.
What kind of education do you have, would you be able to support your family if the lobster fishery collapsed? -Grade 10 equivalency, and Marine Engineering Journeys Ticket which would allow me to work in other marine related fields, such as on a Coast Guard boat. How big do lobsters need to be? -3 ¼ inches, if they are smaller they are called tinkers and must be released. Are you an inshore of offshore fisherman? -Start inshore and then move 4 hours offshore afterwards. Do you eat a lot of lobster or other local seafood? -Not lobsters, maybe one meal a week, but lots of other seafood. Are the lobsters you catch sold to someone local? -Yes, the dealer is local in Clark’s Harbour. Have you ever had a bad experience with fellow fishermen? -Yes, ‘burning pots off,’ lost pots because someone laid their line over ours. How often do you check your traps? -You have to check every 72 hours, we try to go every day, especially at the start of the season.
How many people go out on the boat with you? -3 people, Captain and 2 crew. Do you see many young people who are interested in this line of work? -Not really now, lots of people are moving away. Do you catch anything in your traps besides lobster? -Yes, so much! Scallops, sea cucumbers, sea pumpkins, sea urchins, cod fish, sand dollars, mackerel, etc. We have to throw it all back. What do you use as bait? -frozen mackerel, frozen herring, rotten mackerel, red fish etc. How much did you catch last year? -In total about 56-57 thousand pounds.