HomeIndustryLobster Hits $20/Pound in Southwestern Nova Scotia

Lobster Hits $20/Pound in Southwestern Nova Scotia

A record-setting price of $20 a pound was being paid to lobster harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia as March was winding down.

“I’ve heard numbers above $19 before but hitting $20 is something new,” said Kris Vascotto, executive director of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance.

“That’s a big number. The other LFAs (lobster fishing areas) are going to be opening very shortly so I would view this as somewhat temporary,” he said.

Generally speaking, lobster prices at the wharf in LFAs 33 and 34 usually peak during February and March, when fishing effort and landings are the lowest during the six-month season.

“There’s not that much inventory out there. There’s not a lot of people holding product and part of that is related to the price you are seeing at the wharf. The markets themselves, they are still buying, but they are definitely suggestions of apprehension and really, it’s just related to the price of the product. We’re hearing the overseas markets are beginning to make noise about potentially removing the item from their menus just because of the price, and if that happens, it’s really much more difficult to get back on a menu than it is to take it off, so some of the price pressures associated with this could lead to some real challenges coming down the line as other supplies come online,” said Vascotto.

Traditionally the shore price drops in southwestern Nova Scotia once LFAs throughout Atlantic Canada open in the spring.

“That’s the expectation,” said Vascotto. “There’s no reason to think this season cycle is going to be any different.”

Vascotto said the industry has been challenged by low inventories this year, especially as it’s related to the price at the wharf. “Once those inventory challenges disappear with all these other LFAs opening up… we will see a very dramatic correction in very short order.”

“There’s a reality that once we see a substantial amount being landed, then the competition for that product is going to go down, so there is the potential for greater market uptake at lower prices if the market is actually interested in taking it up again,” he added.

On the other side of the coin is the processing sector, said Vascotto. When they start operating, there’s a very fixed material supply they can operate viably, so that’s another pressure that will drag that correction down.

“We are all expecting a correction. That will be determined by what the market is willing to pay. Right now, the market is making a lot of noise about the price of the product and the very limited volumes being available to buy. As those volumes go up, we’re going to see the market price drop accordingly and the interest will hopefully expand to be able to take those raw materials back in. If not, we could be in for a little bit of an interesting spring.”

LFAs throughout Atlantic Canada were scheduled to start opening on April 19 in Eastern Nova Scotia, followed by Newfoundland on April 20 and on April 30 on Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia’s North Shore.

“We’re all sitting here with bated breath waiting to see what’s going to happen after April 1 rolls around and things start to open up,” said Vascotto. “This is a cycle we see every single year. This year the price is a little bit higher than other years and the markets themselves are starting to make noise. I think that is probably going to hurt us in the near term but you never know. Maybe everything will snap to go.”

As the other LFAs open, the six-month LFA 33 and 34 fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia is coming to an end. The season closes on May 31.

“It’s quite clear that in the season so far landings have been lower than in recent years.  Inventories are really non-existent speaks to the fact,” said Vascotto, adding “every pound that has been landed has been able to find a home at a higher price. Hopefully this is a short bump in the road.”