Monocolumn: Canada’s Lobstermen Try To Claw Back

The fishermen of Nova Scotia’s rocky southwest coast are mending their lobster traps and checking lines, but some predict the local fleet will stay at the wharf when the fishery is scheduled to open at the end of November.

Monocolumn- Canada’s lobstermen try to claw back

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

The fishermen of Pubnico, Argyle, Shag Harbour and the other hamlets of Nova Scotia’s rocky southwest coast are mending their lobster traps and checking lines, but some predict the local fleet will stay at the wharf when the fishery is scheduled to open at the end of November. For the third year in a row, a high Canadian dollar and recession-minded Americans are conspiring to threaten one of the world’s most venerable lobster industries.

One hundred and fifty fishermen filed into a Yarmouth church the other day to plot strategy. They all knew the unfortunate mathematics: fishermen landed 10 per cent more lobster last year than two years ago, but earned 25 per cent less for their haul. Prices for the last two years have dropped below 20-year lows and for the very first time, the kings of rural Nova Scotia are going bust.

One of them, Ashton Spinney, bought his first license in 1957 for 25 cents. In all those years, Spinney never saw able-bodied lobstermen walk away from their boats. This year, nine of his neighbors sold out. Three of Richard Donaldson’s neighbours have given up, and the lifelong lobsterman is thinking about following their lead. Young men used to fight for the chance to crew on his boat, but now Donaldson can’t find a local lad to go to sea.

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Image by tuppus

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