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Cape George native enters marine hall of fame

Brian Adams is presented with his Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame recognition by West Nova MP Colin Fraser (left) and Zach Churchill, Yarmouth County MLA and Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, during the Jan. 25 ceremony in Yarmouth.
Brian Adams is presented with his Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame recognition by West Nova MP Colin Fraser (left) and Zach Churchill, Yarmouth County MLA and Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, during the Jan. 25 ceremony in Yarmouth. - Kathy Johnson

Brian Adams inducted in mariner category

YARMOUTH, N.S. - Brian Adams, originally from Cape George, Antigonish County, was recently inducted into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place during the annual Eastern Canadian Fisheries Exposition, at the Mariner’s Centre in Yarmouth, Jan 25. Inductees are selected for three categories; mariner, processor and builder. Adams was inducted in the mariner category.

“I was approached last fall by Trinav (Fisheries Consultants), who organized the event, who then contacted the association for information around my career,” Adams said regarding the honour. “I didn’t really expect it … I was pretty humbled when I was accepted. I definitely want to thank the organizers and Eastern Canadian Fisheries Exposition in partnership with Navigator Magazine.”

He talked about the ceremony in Yarmouth.

“It was a big crowd in attendance; one of the biggest they’ve had on an opening day; they had more than 5,000.”

Adams talked about reconnecting with fellow inductee Jean Guy d'Entremont from Yarmouth, who entered the Hall in the processor category.

“I knew him very well; we went to meetings in Ottawa and that kind of stuff, over the years,” Adams said, adding he probably hadn’t seen d'Entremont in 10 to 15 years.

The third person inducted during the ceremony was John Hines from Central Argyle, Nova Scotia, in the builder category. Adams said he hadn’t met Hines before but know of him and his work. 

Brian Adams during his lobster fishing days.
Brian Adams during his lobster fishing days.

Adams’ background

Born in 1948 in Cape George, he was the ninth of 14 children born to parents Alex and Ella Adams. A fifth generation fisherman, Alex provided for his family by fishing lobster, cod, herring and mackerel, as well as operating his own beef farm.

Adams eventually settled in Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton, where he met his wife of 52 years, Elaine (Timmons) Adams.

He has been fishing for more than 40 years, having grown up knowing the meaning of hard work from fishing and working on the farm with his siblings and father, during his teen years.

In 1978, he started fishing snow crab and mackerel, seining as a deckhand aboard his brother-in-law’s vessel out of Pleasant Bay.

Own boat

After a few years in this role, Adams acquired his own enterprise in 1981 to fish lobster and long-line cod.

               In 1984, 34 additional snow crab licenses were issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Adams fit under the DFO criteria for the draw in this, relatively, new fishery.

At the time, the inshore Area 19 crab fishery was meant to help supplement lobster fishery in the area. There was no recognized inshore crab representative group at the time, so Adams started talking with other concerned crab harvesters from the area, and helped form the Area 19 Crab Fisheries Association (CFA 19). He became the CFA 19’s first president and served from 1984 until 2010.

“We had a strong committed board which included representatives from each of the five ports we served, from Margaree North to Bay St. Lawrence,” Adams said. “It was something DFO required of the group at the time.”

In those 26 years, Adams and the board were instrumental in leading negotiations and convincing DFO managers to move towards co-management with CFA 19 and bring in individual transferable trap quotas for the Area 19 crab fishery; a system where one’s quota of snow crab is tied to each allotted crab trap … a system still practiced today.  

The harvesting plan was unique and was one of the first of its kind in this fishery for the region. Adams adds, “in fact, (a first) in this part of the western world, we were advised.”

For many years, Adams and the board worked side-by-side with DFO snow crab scientists in providing information and advice on yearly harvesting plans.

Brian Adams at the podium during the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame ceremony Jan. 25.
Brian Adams at the podium during the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame ceremony Jan. 25.

Marketing involvement

As a leader on behalf of the CFA 19, Adams was involved in marketing local products overseas; including snow crab in Japan in 1997, and China in 2006 and 2007. In 2004, Adams traveled to Norway and Scotland with a larger group of fisheries representatives, from across Nova Scotia, to explore the effects of drilling and seismic work on the fishery.

Since 2004, Adams has also been active with a number of other organizations representing lobster harvesters, including the North of Smokey Fisherman’s Association (NOSFA) Gulf Region. He currently sits on the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board (GNSFPB).

Other associations

Adams’ participation list also includes; president of the Pleasant Bay Fisherman’s Committee (1983-1994), board member of the Pleasant Bay Harbour Authority (1999-2008) and President of the Pleasant Bay Harbour Authority (2008-present).

And if that was not enough to keep him busy, Adams was also the first fire chief and founding member of the Pleasant Bay Fire Department (1982-1989).

“None of the above would have been possible if it had not been for the dedication of the board of directors, the federal DFO people and provincial DFA (Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture) folks,” he said, noting the list of thank yous  as includes “our committed office person and, finally, our legal person and negotiator, miss D. Baker from Halifax. Thank you to all who were involved, especially the membership/fisherman who put their trust in the process.”

Adams retired from the fishery, for personal reasons, in spring of 2017 but still advocates for a number of volunteer organizations in his community of Pleasant Bay.

“I would like to believe that I was as good to the fishery as it was to me and my crew over the years,” he said.

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