13 Sep A little history: #swordfish #fishing in Nova Scotia
Set in 1952, The Disappeared is the story of six fishermen, whose swordfish boat Dorothy Jean has sunk off the Nova Scotian coast.
Swordfish fishing has a long history in Nova Scotia, and harpooned swordfish remains a sustainable practice. The Sea Choice website offers some insightful information about swordfish history and fishing practices.
“Swordfish are summer visitors off Nova Scotia’s coast, following the warming Atlantic waters up from Florida by late June. Along with a streamlined silvery-blue physique, these stately fish possess a sharp, sword-like bill that allows them to cut through the water at speeds over 100 kilometers per hour. By night, they feed by diving into the chilly depths after smaller fish, especially squid, and then spend their days basking, or “finning,” near the surface in the warmth of the gulf stream.
Nova Scotia’s harpoon swordfish fishery is a unique hunt-like fishery with a rich cultural tradition. Mature swordfish are targeted by small boats on calm, clear afternoons. Fishermen have to sight the fish at the surface, where adults bask in the warmer surface waters after a night of feeding. When one is spotted, the harpooner attempts to spear it with a 4 to 5 meter long harpoon attached to a line.
The Canadian harpoon swordfishery was a sustainable part of coastal community life for many years, until the 1960s, when longlining was introduced. These pelagic fishing lines stretch 25 to 50 miles in length and are baited with hundreds of hooks. A longline catches everything in its path, including juvenile and non-target fish, endangered tuna species, sharks, turtles, and even the occasional whale.