'Why is there piles of lobsters in the woods?': Illegal dumping hits Weymouth

Photo from CBC/Radio-Canada.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating after dozens of piles of dead, dried-up lobsters were found around Weymouth, N.S., last week.

Weymouth is in Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 34 and the season runs between the last Monday in November until the end of May.

Jody Smith, a lobster fisherman from the area, said he and others found the lobsters in wooded areas where people have been known to illegally dump their garbage.

"You're wasting a valuable resource to dump it in the woods. This is sick," said Smith.

Some of the lobsters found in the piles were completely dried out and bleached by the sun while others appeared fresher. The lobsters have rubber bands on the claws.

Smith believes the lobsters are being caught and dumped on the same day, with the turfed ones being discarded because they're not strong enough to survive.

He said the fishery is closed at this time of year because the lobsters shed their shells, a process known as molting. As well, they are busy breeding and reproducing.

"This time of year, you shouldn't be fishing," said Smith.

He said some of the lobsters in the pile are under the regulated size and noted there are a lot of females. He said there are black markets willing to buy lobsters caught illegally.

'Easy money' on the black market

"There's poachers everywhere. If they can get $5 a pound cash for this stuff or $4 a pound cash and they can go out and get 500, 600 pounds a day, it's pretty easy money," said Smith.

Smith said he's been trying to get DFO to stop the dumping. He said fishermen have been holding demonstrations outside DFO offices to voice their frustrations.

"Whatever [DFO is] doing, it's not working obviously.," he said. "It's in the woods. Those lobsters should never make it to here ... Why is there piles of lobsters in the woods?"

Smith said DFO needs to be doing more enforcement.

In an interview with Radio-Canada on Sunday, DFO spokesperson Doug Wentzell said the department is investigating the dumped lobsters.

"We're aware of sites where lobsters were found and we're in the process of following up on those sites during the weekend just to confirm the condition of the lobster and more details to have a better understanding of what was found," he said.

Wentzell said it's not yet clear whether the lobsters were caught recently, but the investigation will help determine that.