Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia — Lobster Fishing Area 35
Fish harvesters use wooden and wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch lobster. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface. The traps attract lobster with bait and capture them live. Fish harvesters check their traps regularly to haul in their catch. This traditional fishing method has little impact on the seafloor and catches minimal bycatch or unwanted fish.
Lobster traps consist of a rectangular wooden or wire frame covered with nylon netting. The traps capture lobster live by attracting them through an entrance to the centre of the trap where the bait is located. As more lobsters enter the trap, the others move into a side “parlour.” Once inside the holding parlour, the larger lobsters are unable to escape. All traps have an escape hatch to allow small lobster, crabs and fish to get out.
Fish harvesters attach one or more traps on a line and set them on the ocean floor. Lobster fishing vessels are less than 45 feet (13.7 meters) and each is limited to 300 traps. There are 95 licensed vessels in this lobster fishing area.
The lobster fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to the number of traps and fishing days. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:
SeaChoice - Some Concerns
Ocean Wise - Not Recommended
Mar 31 - Jul 31
Oct 15 - Dec 31
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery under an integrated fishery management plan for Lobster Fishing Areas 27 to 38 in Nova Scotia.
For the most recent lobster stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.
Local fish harvesters pride themselves on harvesting cold-water lobsters with a hard shell. Proper handling is paramount for lobster quality and health. Once landed aboard, lobsters are graded with undersized catch and egg-bearing females returned to the ocean. Rubber bands are fastened around lobster claws for safety and then they are placed in crates. At the dock, the lobsters are sold and usually taken to a local buying facility where they are held several days before being shipped live to market. Some lobsters are also processed, either by cooking or freezing raw.
In this lobster fishing area, most fishermen sell their lobsters directly to local buyers ensuring that their catch is top quality when it reaches the market. In other areas, fishermen sometimes hold their lobsters in storage facilities called “cars.” These floating structures are moored along the seashore and have compartments that hold lobster. Tides flush the lobsters twice a day with fresh seawater. Fishermen typically hold lobster in hopes that the market prices will improve later in their fishing season.
Local buyers and exporters also keep lobsters in a variety of storage facilities, including tidal pounds and tank houses. The best facilities try to mimic the natural hibernating conditions of lobster. They are individually separated into plastic tubes or trays, and placed in fresh, cold seawater to replicate their solitary existence on the seafloor. Proper facilities closely monitor oxygen levels, temperature and salinity of the seawater. Under good conditions, lobsters can maintain their top quality for several months.
Lobster Fishing Area 35 covers the eastern end and upper basins of the Bay of Fundy, one of the most unique marine ecosystems in the world. Here peak tidal range is 50 feet (15 metres), which is five times the typical tides in Atlantic Canada. The habitat consists of rocky and muddy bottom, and includes Minas Basin and Chignecto Bay. Most fishing happens in shallow areas usually within 9 miles (15 km) of shore.