herring_reboundA rebounding herring fishery in the upper Bay of Fundy was good news this summer for the Digby wharf.

Wharf official Jeff Sunderland said seven different herring seiners were using the wharf in July to unload their catches.

“We had five seiners at one time, the first Monday (July 11) they visited. That’s a significant increase from the two boats last year,” he said.

The seiners bypassed Digby and the wharf during the period it was owned by the Maritime Harbours Society because that group said the facility couldn’t stand up to the strains.

The Digby Harbour Port Association has repaired the facing along the wharf, enabling a returns of seiners.

“For us, it’s a nice increase in business,” Sunderland said. “It’s not a time of year when we have all the fleets in. The lobster boats are wrapping up their season up the bay, and the scallopers are away.”

While seven boats, were in this summer, the harbour used to see 10 to 12 seiners at the peak in the mid-1990s. Sunderland said it appears some of the companies from that period have merged, reducing the size of the fleet.

Size of a different sort is important because wharf rates are based on length times width. Comeau Seafoods’ seiner, the largest of the boats this July, is just over a hundred feet in length (33.8 metres).

Sunderland said coordinating truck traffic is a challenge on the wharf since each fully loaded seiner will offload enough fish to fill at least four tanker trucks. Unlike the heyday of visiting seiners, only a few trucks are standing in a nearby street ready to load. With cell phones, the trucks can find better, less congested places to wait.

Wharf staff have been in touch with herring industry to see that they are content with business here, although Digby remains a likely stop for the seiners when there are herring schools to catch up the bay.

Story by John DeMings

The Digby County Courier

August 19, 2011