HomeIndustryLobster Landings Continue to be Down in Southwestern Nova Scotia

Lobster Landings Continue to be Down in Southwestern Nova Scotia

With a month to go before the six-month commercial lobster fishery in lobster fishing areas (LFAs) 33 and 34 closes on May 31, there didn’t seem to be much improvement in landings.

“It’s bad. It’s one of those seasons where a lot of the guys are wondering if they should be fishing something else to try and make up the difference,” said Heather Mulock, executive director of the Coldwater Lobster Association.

“It’s the third week of April and we’re not seeing much improvement in the catches at all. That’s pretty well across the board. Every year we see pockets of guys who are doing well but the majority district-wide are down. I would say the entire district is down 20 per cent from last year. Last year was also down so it’s not a banner year for 34,” said Mulock.

Dan Fleck, project manager for the Brazil Rock 33/34 Lobster Association told a similar story, “There’s not really any improvement. Two weeks ago, we had several warm days and there was a bump in the lobster catches, then the wind went to the north and cooled things off. It’s up and down, week to week, but it seems to be more down than up.”

“The LFA 34 lobster season has left many harvesters scratching their heads and a lot more putting pen to paper to ensure that they’re “breaking even” with the increase in operational costs. It’s not uncommon for fishermen to move their gear during the season in search of lobster, though this year, there’s been a lot more movement than in the past. The season started off slow with lower catch rates and as we enter into the third week in April, the catches remain low with some captains alternating between other fisheries such as groundfish (halibut) and scallop to offset the financial loss,” said Mulock.

“The shore price has certainly been a rollercoaster but it’s important to note that the higher-than-average lobster prices are reflective of low inventory. As of today (April 16), the shore price is now $11.25 — a significant drop from just a few weeks ago when it was hovering around $19–20 per pound. The economics of “supply and demand” dictate the shore price of seafood and for lobster, the demand is there but when the supply is reduced, the price is reflective of this. With LFA 32 along the Eastern Shore about to open at the end of this week, the shore price may take another slight drop as history has shown in the past.”

Market-wise, going into May on the life-lobster front, Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada, said,“As we have seen with record high shore prices this winter, there is very little live lobster inventory going into the spring production period and everyone who is handling new caught product is moving it quickly through the market as the prices fall when most Canadian LFAs begin fishing in the next few weeks. The live lobster market in China has been driving the market with weaker interest in Europe and the United States.”

For frozen lobster, “There was a shortage of lobster meat and raw tails going into the winter which also drove up prices for those key retail and foodservice items. The whole in-shell market is receiving signals that there should be demand this spring, naturally depending on prices. The key in the spring will be finding a shore price that will allow both the live and frozen segments of the industry to procure lobster and move it smoothly through their channels,” said Irvine.