The Year of the Weir

I’ve promised a few times over the years to explain the Weirs. (when you’re saying that word to yourself, at least here in the Maritimes, pronounce it like the verb “wear”) I’m actually going to provide you with a better description than I can give using a brief video from Dale Calder. You’ll find it at the end of the post.

Essentially, it’s a heart shaped construction of stakes driven into the sea floor with thinner “marlin” poles attached above. Some designs expand the heart to allow for two entry-ways, some are 30 feet across, and some are enormous. Twine (net) is wrapped around the stakes and then wrapped around the marlin poles. During a high tide the only part visible might be the marlin poles.

Winter storms do a real number on these things. Most of the poles are lost and, depending on the force of the pile driver, there are often stakes washed up on the beach as well.

I talk about the fishermen “shutting off” every year. That involves waiting until there are herring in a cove and then racing to trap them by stringing twine across from point to point, making the cove a pool with no exit. These weirs approach things differently, but must be built on the path the fish are known to take when they enter a cove. Any miscalculation and it’s a waste of time and many dollars.

A total of (I think) 5 weirs were built in local waters last year. There are plans for another 10 this season. I believe, but I’m no expert, that there will have to be a lot of new pile drivers and crews willing to operate them. They all might succeed. My best guess is that there won’t be that many built. I will say that, based on last year’s construction, it takes weeks or months to assemble the materials and build the thing.

This many weirs, and the number of coves they plan to operate in, will affect the shut-offs. There are a rules and I’m sure everybody will abide by them. I also believe in the tooth fairy. 🙂

Our weather is doing that whole Spring/Winter schizophrenia thing. Yesterday was so warm I didn’t light the stove. Today it’s hovering around freezing but the wind makes it feel much colder. The next few days will be cold enough that I’m going to make sure I have plenty of wood inside and won’t have to venture very far.

My morning drive, although focused on weirs, was intended to find some signs of wildlife. Seagulls, eagles, and the occasional duck were the only ones I saw. No mammals were dumb enough to appear.

I should note that in this video Dale talks about them “seining” the fish once they’re trapped in the weir. The nets around those stakes are the seine. A pumper is then called in and the boat lowers a big vacuum tube down into the water and removes them.

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