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Lobster market overview

A duty-free tariff on live lobster exports to Europe that took effect on Sept. 21 and tariffs on frozen and processed lobster being phased out over the next five years under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is good news for the lobster industry, says Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

“This is a great opportunity to sell more lobster, so it’s really good news,” says Irvine, who gave an overview of lobster markets, landings and value at the SWNS Lobster Forum on Sept. 20 in Yarmouth.

Irvine says he also sees “good growth” potential for markets in Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. In 2016, the total value of Canadian lobster exports topped $2.1 billion.

Over the last 10 years, Irvine says increased supply and lower prices “has allowed us to build lobster markets everywhere from fast food, checkered tablecloths to white tablecloths,” which in turn has helped sustain higher prices.

This year, a flat supply has put upward pressure on shore prices. A strong Canadian dollar, strong landings in Maine, the current overall soft market demand and competition in the marketplace from other proteins (i.e. shrimp, pork, beef) are all factors that will come into play when the lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia opens on Nov. 27, Irvine says.