With a month to go before the traps come ashore, low landings were still being reported in lobster fishing areas (LFAs) 33 and 34.
“There’s nothing to write home about this season,” says Tommy Amirault, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association. “It’s been a tough go this spring.”
Going into May, the final month of the season, Amirault said even if the catches improve, “I don’t think May will be much salve for the wounds of March and April.”
More boats can be seen fishing the inshore grounds this spring in southwestern Nova Scotia. “People are trying to cut back on expenses and trying to go a little cheaper. Everybody is trying to make it work,” said Amirault.
The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance said the spring portion of the LFA 33 and 34 lobster fisheries has been rather disappointing as of April 24.
“March and April catches were extremely disappointing, however it harkens back to that old expression: You can’t catch them twice,” says the Alliance. “Catches in December of 2022 and January of 2023 were generally comparable to other years, so perhaps it should not have been shocking that early spring catches were less than anticipated. Our hope is that catches improve as water temperature warms up between now and the end of the season on May 31.”
The Alliance says there “is strong demand for the catch as international markets in Asia and elsewhere generally improve. Harvesters have received a peak price of $13/pound at the wharf and we shall see how it adjusts downward as spring seasons open throughout Atlantic Canada.”
One thing all industry stakeholders have facing this season “is the substantial challenge of higher operating costs. Inflation in all aspects of the business model has made it more difficult to achieve normal returns on investment, and so the rest of this spring and summer period remains a bit of a work in progress.”
The Alliance said although 2023 has been challenging for members to date, “we remain cautiously optimistic that our business model will improve somewhat.”
Lobster remains the most valuable seafood caught in Atlantic Canada. In 2022, the top export by volume and value at Halifax Stanfield International Airport was Nova Scotia seafood, primarily live lobster. The airport processed 16,422 metric tonnes of seafood exports at a $321 million CAD value.