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Lobster Fishing Off Nova Scotia’s South Shore
The temperature at the dock was in the low 30s, but I wasn’t shivering. I dressed in several layers in anticipation of the colder offshore temperatures. I could barely bend my limbs because the bulk made navigating the ladder from the dock to the deck challenging.
Today was the day! I’m going to be part of the crew on a lobster boat.
When we reached our traps, marked by buoys, we needed to pull them up from 12 fathoms. Fishers string together the bright blue and yellow wire traps in groups of six. As they sit on the side of the boat, one fisher works one side of the trap capably, removing the trapped lobster, measuring them, and dropping them in buckets.
The crew returns lobsters that are too small to the water.
A fishers’ agreement ensures fishers throw back berried (egg-bearing) females to the ocean to sustain the lobster population. Before returning the berried female to the sea, they place a V-shaped notch in her tail, signaling others that she’s a breeding female.
On the other side of the trap, another fisher removes the remains of the old bait and re-baits the trap. They place the re-baited traps on the boat’s back deck until we reach a new area, and then they go back into the ocean.
In addition to lobster, traps might also capture other sea creatures like sculpins that would later become bait.
The crew collected and placed the skeletal remains of the bait, haddock, in large tubs. They throw these remains back into the ocean as they return to shore. Although the lobster had picked the bait relatively clean, some meat remained on the bones. If the crew threw the remains into the ocean after being removed from the lobster trap, the crew’s future catch might find enough food on the bones to avoid the traps.
Piper’s Pro Planning: I usually don’t get seasick, but I felt the boat’s motion a bit too intensely today. When feeling a bit queasy or seasick, watch the horizon.
Take a closer look at my lobster fishing experience in the video below.
You can experience fishing on a lobster boat like I did with White Point Beach Resort’s Great Canadian Lobster Fishing Feast, available November through May.
Nova Scotia’s South Shore: Fisher Direct
The next stop on the lobsters’ journey was Fisher Direct, a lobster pound, where they store lobsters before shipping. Fisher Direct’s owner’s grandson, Wesley Nickerson, put me to work sorting, tubing, and shipping lobster.
The facility consists of several saltwater tanks with a total capacity of 650,000 pounds of lobster. The first tank is the Purge Tank, where lobsters remain for 48 hours so they have time to cleanse.
Sorting and Grading
First, we sorted and graded the lobsters. Usually, 20 employees work the line to weigh and sort each lobster by hand.
It takes six to eight years for lobsters to reach the market weight of approximately a pound and a quarter to a pound and a half.
Tubing and Shipping
Then we tubed each size into crates, and the containers may go back to the tanks for storage for up to six months. Others continue through the packing process for immediate shipment. The crustaceans I packed were on their way to a 72-hour trip to Japan.
Fisher Direct supplies lobster worldwide, as far away as China and as near as Maine. Maine rebrands some Nova Scotia lobster as Maine lobster to fill the gap in the demand.
See the video below for my adventures at Fisher Direct, where I sorted, tubed, and shipped lobster.
After all that work, it was time for a lobster dinner.
Let’s Eat Lobster on Nova Scotia’s South Shore: Fo’c’sle Tavern
The final stop in my lobster experience is Fo’c’sle Tavern in Chester, Nova Scotia. Chef Scott Yourden taught me how to deconstruct a lobster and enjoy the ocean’s bounty.
Piper’s Pro Planning: If you are cooking a lobster at home, be sure to remove the rubber bands from the claws before dropping the lobster in the pot, or your lobster will taste like rubber. To do so without injury, use one hand to hold the lobster with the lobster claws crisscrossed and the other to remove the bands. Then, drop the lobster in the pot.
This video will come in handy whether you order a whole lobster in a restaurant or cook one yourself at home. Learn from Chef Scott Youden how to break down a whole lobster for your dining pleasure.
On Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl, I experienced lobster—from a simple boiled lobster dinner, lobster chowder, lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, fondue, nachos, pizza, and beer. Yes, lobster beer.
Find out how you can experience Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl.
Other articles about Nova Scotia’s South Shore Lobster Crawl are:
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While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.