Feb 25, 2015 8:48 PM

Ice, cold hurting NH fisherman making a living off the ocean

For NH1.com

SEABROOK - Dwight Souther's lobster boat has been iced in for over a month.

No fishing? No income.

"I've lost 80 some traps and they cost about $75 each and that's not counting the rope. It gets pretty costly to lose traps,"Souther said.

Like none before, this winter is challenging commercial fishermen, espeically loberstermen.

Not only is it too cold to go out, February's storms have destroyed their fishing gear including hundreds of lobster traps that have been ripped out of the ocean waters, littering local beaches

"We picked up 85 pounds of garbage much of it rope, so it was heavy," said Jennifer Kennedy of Blue Ocean Society.

"Animals gets tangled up in the lines of rope and eat the trash by accident. They more they beat up the more plastic cones off everywhere out there."

It's illegal to remove lobster traps. A $2,000 fine for doing so means they'll remain on the beaches until the state organizes its annual spring cleanup.

Rough oceans waters have coughed up all sorts of debris.

"Any trash that doesn't get plowed, gets moved into snow dump and make it more to pick up," Kennedy said.

While springtime will bring cleanup, what will fishermen do to recoup the money they've lost this winter?

Don Stevens has been a commercial diver for 50 years. Responding to emergencies, he dives into 30 degree waters helping fishermen rescue entangled boats

"The instant we hit water, the metal freezes and balls of ice form. Encased in ice," Stevens said.

He calls ice chunks the most dangerous debris for divers and boaters, especially when cascading full speed down the Piscataqua River.

"When this comes down the river it's devastating," said Stevens. "If you thought of it, it's kind of like a log splinter coming at your boat."

Shifting ice destroys, among other things, boat propellers. In Seabrook Harbor, ice chipped away at pilings, ultimately knocking down two of them.

Ice prevents lobster boats from going out, and that means wholesaler seaview lobster is having a difficult time filling orders

"49 years old and it's the worst winter i've ever seen. Worst since starting our business. Last monday it was clogged like we've never seen," said Kevin Flanigan of Seaview Lobster Co.

"The whole back channel was like the deadly straights. Couldn't even pull up to the wharf," said Flanigan.

A one pound lobster brings in $10 right now. That's if you can trap it, and then save it from the arctic air.

"If you leave lobster in the cold the claws fall off. It gets too cold," Flanigan said.

Too much ice, too much snow, and too cold.

February 2015 will go down in the record books as one of the worst ever for New Englanders making a living off the ocean.


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