A total of 12 boats carrying 101 participants took part in the 24th annual Yarmouth Shark Scramble from Aug. 17 to 20, landing a total of 35 blue sharks with a combined weight of 8,769 pounds.
The three largest blue sharks landed during this year’s scramble were caught by the crew aboard the fishing vessel Irvin John. Christian Deveau topped the leaderboard with a 367-pound shark. In second was Riley Crowell with a 360-pound catch and in third was Lyndon Maddie with a 331-pound blue shark. The Irvin John’s total catch weighed in at 1,058 pounds for high boat average.
The Minnow Award for the youngest sharker went to Matthew Wood aboard the 34 to Life with an 156-pound catch.
Scramble participants are only allowed to land blue sharks that are a minimum of eight feet in length.
Community support for the scramble was and always is tremendous, says Shark Scramble committee member Candy Fitzgerald. “This is a small fishing town and the businesses are very supportive with sponsorship,” she said.
The majority of Scramble participants are repeats, said Fitzgerald. “We have participants asking about next year’s Scramble before the current one is complete,” she said. “The prospect of not having the Shark Scramble is upsetting to our participants. The participants are quick with thank yous and appreciation for all the work that we put into this tournament.”
There was a good size crowd on hand at Rudder’s Wharf on the Yarmouth waterfront for the weigh-in this year.
“Those who come to view the off loads and weighing of the sharks usually leave with more insight into the valuable research that tournaments like the Yarmouth Shark Scramble provide. The spectators are able to ask questions of the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) scientists and others who are examining the sharks. The feedback is positive and appreciative as the day is geared for the whole family,” said Fitzgerald.
DFO researchers were kept busy during the weigh-in collecting data such as length, weight and sex of the sharks caught, as well as samples that are used for research purposes.
“The biological data collected from the tournament is used by DFO Science in the assessment of the stock status and the general health of the population for blue sharks,” says Leslie Nasmith, aquatic science biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “DFO employees usually attend scrambles in order to collect length and weight data on sharks landed, to distribute tagging kits for tagging undersized sharks, and to provide educational information to the public regarding the Species at Risk Act and its protection measures for listed sharks.”
Once the samples and data are collected, the sharks are transported to local processors. Any proceeds from the Scramble are donated back to charities in the community. More than $50,000 has been given to local charities by the Shark Scramble committee since it was started in 1998, said weigh-in master of ceremonies Cliff Gavel.
Preliminary numbers indicated there were 55 sharks tagged by participants in this year’s Yarmouth Shark Scramble. Most were blue sharks, but a few were short-fin makos. DFO Science staff attended tournaments in Yarmouth, Lockeport and Petit-de-Grat this year. A total of 2,954 sharks have been tagged from all tournaments since 2006, including just over 1,100 from Yarmouth alone.
Typically, there are a few more boats that register for the Yarmouth Shark Scramble. “I believe the cost of fuel, rising costs of most everything affected some. Also, with so many places being short staffed, I know several people who couldn’t get time off to go,” said Fitzgerald.
The grand prize winner of the 4×4 side-by-side was Paul Manser from the FV Fallen Angel. Numerous other prizes were also given out to participants including gift certificates, a pressure washer, a smoker, a table-top grill, kayaks and a stand-up paddle board.