Commercial lobster fishers control the majority of traps within Nova Scotia
The lobster season officially starts today in Nova Scotia under heightened security. Last month the province saw its most dangerous streak of sustained violence against the Mi’kmag fishers. The multiple attacks were carried out by local commercial fishers claiming the Mi’kmag fishers do not have the right to fish outside the fishing season.
The Mi’kmaq community has the right to fish anywhere as affirmed in 1999 by the Supreme Court of Canada as it is within the Peace and Friendship Treaty rights that were signed in the 1700’s .
Fishing crews are reminded to take necessary precautions, remain diligent and follow safety rules and guidelines as the commercial lobster fishing season gets on its way.
Last year Nova Scotia exported $2.3 billion in seafood products to 80 countries, with lobster being the highest value export. Lobster fishing is critical to the economy and this year, it’s expected there will be approximately 1,600 boats and 6,400 crew members on the water for the start of lobster fishing season.
However, it is a hazardous profession and taking the necessary safety precautions is crucial to making sure everyone gets home safe. In addition this year, COVID-19 remains a health and safety concern, adding extra protocols on and off the water.
“Fishing can be a dangerous profession and safety always needs to remain the top priority,” said Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Lena Metlege Diab. “
Throughout the year there are many efforts made to educate crews about safety requirements and regulations ensuring crews are equipped with the gear and knowledge they need to stay safe. Fishing is a vital part of our province’s economy and I am grateful to the crews for all their hard work. I wish them all a safe and successful season.”
Years of education and training in fishing have made a dangerous industry safer. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all having to take extra precautions to make our workplaces safer. So, as another lobster season begins, I encourage all crews to ensure they are doing everything they can to make safety a priority. Only do something if you can do it safely.” Stuart MacLean, CEO, Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
Weather conditions should be assessed and safety checks performed daily. Crews are encouraged to have an emergency plan in place and inspect all equipment including personal flotation devices, before setting out on the water.
As the highly anticipated season begins, RCMP are likely to be monitoring the open water to ensure no incidents occur. Their physical presence should act as a deterrent to anyone considerable acts of violence or mischief.