Price dispute, great white shark detections take bite out of Nova Scotia herring season

·2 min read
Herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland, Maine, in this file photo from July 8, 2015. Herring fisheries in Nova Scotia are delayed this season as fishermen bargain over price per pound, and great white sharks make their presence known off Nova Scotia. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press - image credit)
Herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland, Maine, in this file photo from July 8, 2015. Herring fisheries in Nova Scotia are delayed this season as fishermen bargain over price per pound, and great white sharks make their presence known off Nova Scotia. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press - image credit)

Herring fishermen along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia tied up their boats this week, kept ashore by a price dispute in one part of the province and great white shark detections elsewhere.

On the South Shore, gillnet fishermen stayed home in a standoff with buyers after rejecting an offer of 30 cents a pound.

The fishermen, who are asking for 35 cents a pound, voted 47 to 17 to reject the offer from buyers at a meeting Tuesday in Lockeport.

"The fleet has voted not to go fishing until they can get an agreement with the buyers," said Peter Partington, who represents 113 fishermen belonging to the Little Hope gillnet herring fishery.

It's named after an old lighthouse off Port Mouton and takes place within spawning areas along the South Shore extending 40 kilometres to sea.

Costs rising, say fishermen

Landings in last year's early fall fishery were valued at over $6 million. This season, fishermen have yet to land a single fish from their 8,622 tonne quota.

"Our costs are increasing as much as theirs [buyers] are," said Partington.

"I think the public is well aware of the prices of fuel, the prices of gear and the prices of labour. And so it's a standoff and we're hoping that it can be resolved."

Reuters
Reuters

On the province's Eastern Shore, meanwhile, the gillnet herring fishery has a total allowable catch of 6,649 tonnes.

The fleet has been idled by pings identifying the presence of tagged great white sharks inside their fishing box.

"We decided to be proactive and close down until we could get a better handle on the situation. They are endangered," said Peter Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fisherman's Protective Association.

"It is a big deal. But the fishermen are aware of the effort that's been put into protecting these animals. We'll have to do our part."

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