HomeLacklustre Lobster Season Continues in Southwestern N.S.

Lacklustre Lobster Season Continues in Southwestern N.S.

With winter weather finally settling in, the lobster fishery in Southwestern Nova Scotia slowed to a snail’s pace in February.

The winter fishery has “been pretty normal considering the way the season started,” said Tommy Amirault president of the Coldwater Lobster Association.

“It started down and never really got up, but the price went up, the catches were okay in spots, spottier than normal. I think it turned out a little better than it looked. District 33 was not very good at all outside. District 34 was spottier than normal. We’re going to be down, there’s no doubt about that. The price has helped,” said Amirault.

Mid-way through February, the shore price was in the $16/pound range, up from about $13.50/pound in late January.

Weatherwise, things have been average, except for water temperatures.

“The water was cold when we started and it obviously didn’t get any warmer,” said Amirault. “Winter storms knocked it down a bit. There’s always a chance we will have an early spring. Maybe the lobsters we didn’t catch in the fall we’ll catch in the spring.”

The spring is a bit harder to plan, said Amirault. “The price isn’t that great. The water takes longer to warm up. It used to be we had winter early, December and January. By mid February, March it was going back the other way. It seems like we’re just getting winter now, February on. The water takes that much longer to warm up. We’re just starting to get the water warmed up and the season is over.”

The spring also signals the start of lobster fisheries throughout Atlantic Canada, beginning April 19 in Eastern Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador follows on April 20. Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia’s North Shore open April 30.

“There’s a lot of lobsters coming ashore in the spring. The price is weaker. Even if we do have a really good spring, it will probably be hard for the guys to make the numbers work,” said Amirault. “We’re so dependant on the good haul.”

Amirault said fishermen have been dealing with a ton of different issues; windfarms, MPAs, resource allocation and most recently the increase in the minimum carapace size in Maine on Jan. 1.

Amirault said while there’s been no industry discussions yet on this side of the border about the carapace size increase, the discussion is coming.

“Hard questions,” said Amirault. “You are going to have to figure out if you are better off catching 10 to 15 per cent more and getting less for them. It’s a marketing problem more than a retention problem.”

In the meantime, Amirault is hoping the lobsters are there this spring in LFA 33 and 34.

“I hope that we had a late moult, maybe people will have a decent spring and will relieve everybody’s bottom line and hopes for next season. A lot of people were really discouraged with the fall catch and they felt a bunch of different factors for it. I’m hoping for a decent spring and everyone feeling a bit of optimism.”