Lobster traps sit on a lobster car in the middle of the harbour in Clark’s Harbour waiting to be set again come spring. Kathy Johnson photo

After the usual winter lull in the LFA 33–34 lobster fishery, by late March/early April the countdown will be on to the May 31 season end.

“By April most people will be back at it,” says Tommy Amirault, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association. “Where that price settles and what the catches will be… I think people will be a little bit more timid with the way they haul, a couple days soak instead of every day is the kind of story I’m hearing.”

The shore price increased to the $12 range in February, up from $9 to $10 a pound in January and the opening price of $8.

“The price, I think that’s going to help some people out a lot,” says Amirault.  “Some people had saved lobsters; fishermen wouldn’t have saved a lot, but they saved some, so that will help.”

Amirault said there are good signs of recruitment in the catch this year and the quality has been good. “Everything looks healthy, there are a fair amount of small ones and a fair amount of seeded lobsters. The quality was really good. Most fishermen I talked to said the quality was really good so that’s a good sign.”

With low landings during February, Amirault said it gives the buyers the opportunity to work on inventory and hopefully make some money with it and keep their side of things going.

Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada (LCC), said in February lobster markets are typically responding to supply dynamics that are unique to the winter months.

“There is limited fishing, so little to no processing, and the live shipping industry is moving product as it comes in to keep the limited winter markets happy,” said Irvine. “Chinese New Year demand was higher than anticipated which was good news for the live market who now look to spring promotional periods around Mother’s and Father’s Day in North America and the spring lobster production periods to set the course for the rest of 2023.”

On the processed lobster product market, Irvine said lobster tail prices are moving up and lobster meat is steady as buyers in North America realize that fall production was low and inventories will be tight through the winter.

“Both the live and processing sector are hoping to enter the new production season with a good inventory position,” he said.

“Overall, lobster landings volume in Canada for 2022 appear to be lower than previous years so many industry participants are watching that situation as they plan their purchasing and production for the rest of the year.  Maine landings were just announced for 2022 at 96.2 million pounds, down about 14 million from 2021.”

As part of a long-term effort to diversify live and frozen lobster markets and Atlantic Canadian seafood in general, the Lobster Council of Canada led a two-week trade mission in late February in Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. The mission featured qualified meetings between Atlantic Canadian exporters and importers in each country, menu promotions, retail store visits and plant tours.