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Cape Breton lobster fishermen trying to salvage traps after wind storm
Lobster season has taken a devastating turn in Cape Breton after strong winds and rough seas caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to traps and gear.
CTV’s chief meteorologist Kalin Mitchell says a peak wind gust of 91 kilometres per hour was recorded in Sydney on Tuesday.
Since then, lobster fishermen from Sydney to Louisbourg have been finding their equipment scattered along the shoreline of eastern Cape Breton, and now they’re trying to salvage whatever they can.
“Trying to find everything, can’t find nothing,” said one fisherman in Glace Bay on Wednesday. “It’s all up on the beaches. It’s terrible.”
Bill MacDonald has recovered about 75 traps, but he says hundreds are still missing. At a cost of $50 to $75 each to replace, the Glace Bay fisherman says it’s a devastating loss.
“I’m not even getting into dollars and cents,” said MacDonald.
This isn’t the first time the Cape Breton lobster season has been devastated by stormy seas. Some fishermen lost more than 200 traps during a storm in May 2017, described by many as the worst destruction of fishing gear since the 1970s.
“Just continuous winds; the winds started picking up and getting higher, higher and higher during the night,” described fisherman Pat Neary. “Everything we had was up north and we lost it all.”
MacDonald says he has already replaced gear twice this year due to bad weather.
“It puts a dent, a big dent. This is the third time,” he said.
Fishermen say it’s too early to put a price tag on the loss as they continue to search for their traps and gear, but many expect they will be out thousands of dollars.
Fisherman David Caines says it cost him $11,000 to purchase 100 new lobster traps this week.
“For such a short season, so many dirty days,” said Caines. “It really adds up right. Every day lost is like losing two weeks’ pay at a normal job per se.”
Lobster season wraps up on July 15.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore