OHS Canada Magazine

‘Dumping Day’: Lobster season set to kick off in Nova Scotia, prompting workplace safety warning from province

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November 24, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Dumping Day fishing fishing safety Lobster nova scotia

(PT Hamilton/Adobe Stock)

Lobster fishing season is set to kick off on Nova’s Scotia south shore and in the southwestern part of the province.

While the day always brings excitement, and opportunity, the province also wants to point out the great risk the job also carries.

“As lobster season begins, safety is a big concern for fishers and their families. Inspecting equipment, monitoring the weather and putting on personal flotation devices are all important steps to take before crews head out to sea,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration. “I wish all lobster harvesters a prosperous and safe season.”

Dumping Day, as the first day of the season is known, typically falls on the last Monday of November for lobster fishing areas 33 and 34. The start in both areas is weather dependent.

Weather checks should be part of fishing crews’ daily hazard assessment throughout the season, and they should not head out to sea if conditions are too dangerous, the province said.


Occupational health and safety laws require all crew members to wear a life jacket or other personal flotation device.

“This industry is key to Nova Scotia’s economy and more importantly, being prepared helps make sure everyone on board returns safely to their families and communities. While it’s a busy time as the lobster season opens, safety needs to be top of mind. It’s important to have proper equipment in place and review safety procedures regularly,” said Kent Smith, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The government is also reminding fishers about hoist safety this season. Hoists are high-risk equipment that can injure or kill workers if they fail. Fishers are required to conduct a formal, written inspection of hoists annually and conduct a visual inspection of all hoist and rigging equipment before each use.

The safety branch of the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration will be working with its partners at Fish Safe NS, the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council and workplaces around the province to ensure the fishing industry understands their safety roles, responsibilities and general compliance requirements.

Karen Adams, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia, wished all captains and crews a successful season.

“Most importantly, we wish them a safe season. Fishing safety in Nova Scotia has improved in recent years, but tragedies at sea still remind us that there is more to do to ensure these hard-working Nova Scotians come home safe to their families,” said Adams. “As you leave to set your traps, we urge each and every one of you to do so safely – because your friends and family wouldn’t know what to do without you.”

Lobster Fishing Area 33 stretches from Cow Bay in Halifax Regional Municipality to Shelburne County; Lobster Fishing Area 34 covers Shelburne County to Digby County
since 2016, there have been 1,400 fishing-related safety initiatives including man overboard drills, Safety Dock talks and Are You Ready? wharf visits.

Nova Scotia’s seafood industry is the province’s largest exporter and Canada’s top seafood exporter, with $2.6 billion in exports in 2022.


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