Dumping Day, or the day when lobster fishers head out into the waters off the Southern Nova Scotia to lay their cages, is traditionally held on the last Monday in November.
This year, however, the 1,700 boats expected to head out to sea will not be going anywhere on Monday, no thanks to the inclement weather.
"We try to make Dumping Day safe as we can," longtime lobsterman Ashton Spinney told the Halifax Metro. "Still, there's danger ... Unforeseen accidents happen."
Spinney is a member of the body that oversees Lobster Fishing Area 34 (LFA 34) in southwestern Nova Scotia — an approximately New Jersey-sized body of water that has the largest catches of Canada's 41 lobster fishing districts.
Canada's billion-dollar lobster business remains the most lucrative fishery the country and a crucial economic engine on the East Coast, employing about 30,000 harvesters in the Atlantic provinces, according to the Halifax Metro.
Contingencies like this have likely spared lives in recent years, Spinney says, but still today, every angler risks life and limb upon exiting the harbour.
Last year, a 53-year-old man from Cape Breton died on Dumping Day after falling overboard while setting lobster traps in the waters near Yarmouth, according to RCMP.
A spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the Canadian Coast Guard will have additional crews stationed near the fishing grounds and a Cormorant helicopter on standby in case anything goes awry this year, and Nova Scotia's labour minister issued a statement last week urging fishers "to keep safety top of mind" throughout the six-month lobster season.
Dwayne Surette, Area Chief of Resource Management for DFO in Southwest Nova, told the Vanguard that while one weather forecast was calling for 20-25 knot winds, the weather synopsis for Monday was calling for 25 to 30 knots of wind, and the DFO-industry protocol says anything above 25 knots means a delay to the start.
"We had a vote and people were onside with the delay. It was an overwhelming majority," Surette said.
He said the forecast for Tuesday is 15 to 20 knots in the morning, diminishing to light winds later on and then back to around 15 knots.