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Fisheries museum bids farewell to hatchery

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Tiny hatching lobsters will no longer be a part of the Northumberland Fisheries Museum; the museum has officially shut down the lobster hatchery for good as of the beginning of the 2020 season.

Aging equipment that would cost a large sum to replace and a loss of the need of the hatchery have led to the decision to close the downtown Pictou spot.

“The equipment was getting old and it was going to require a significant capital investment,” explained Victoria Thompson of the Northumberland Fisheries Museum of which the hatchery was under the care.

Thompson explained that the hatchery was originally created by the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association as a way to put the money they had for a project to good use and help bring up the numbers of dwindling lobster population at the time. Although the museum and the association partnered on the hatchery it was the association that bought the equipment and had ownership of it. As the lobster stock went up years later, the Fishermen’s Association ceased funding the project and it was left to the museum.

“We’ve operated it, and it’s done well, but not to the standard we want it to be,” said Thompson.

For the past few years, the museum has been operating the hatchery with museum staff rather than a marine biologist that would be best suited to the job.

As the decision was made that the equipment was aging and the museum was not interested in upgrading it the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association, which still had ownership of the majority of the equipment, wanted it to go to good use. The association and the museum have since sent the equipment to Michelle Theriault, director of Marine Research at Sainte Anne in Cape Breton. Theriault will use the equipment to either help teach or pass it on to others who can make use of it,Thompson mentioned.

“That sort of frees us up to focus on different lobsters,” Thompson said about not having to maintain the hatchery through the museum anymore. Although the hatchery will not be there, the museum will still keep unusual lobsters such as any blue, albino, calico, or other types of lobsters that are donated to them.

“It was a really successful project but it had run its course,” she said. For now, the hatchery building will remain closed in order to have it cleaned up appropriately, and in the future, Thompson mentioned that it may be a home for their living lobster collection but there is nothing set in stone yet.