Fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia were hoping for better weather in May as the six-month lobster season in Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 33 and 34 comes to a close.
Strong winds and rough seas continued to hamper lobster fishing efforts throughout April.
“The catches are above average from last year this time, but the problem is the boats aren’t getting out,” said Mike Cotter, owner of Cotters Ocean Products in Lockeport. “The weather has been so bad, they’re lucky to get out once or twice a week.”
While landings “are not the best,” compared to “the last few years at this time, the catches are good,” said Cotter. “It’s just the end of April. The boats are averaging a pound to a trap. That’s still good fishing for this time of the year,” noting water temperatures were “still awful cold” — in the 38 degree range.
“May will be a better month. The water is warmer. The last part of the season, the lobsters seem to come on” with bigger runs of “shiners” so named because of the shiny shells the lobsters have from crawling across the ocean bottom on the way to the inside grounds, said Cotter.
“You will see the spring lobsters we’re looking for as soon as the water warms up a little bit,” he said. “It’s not going to take a lot more. A few more days with decent weather and I think we will see an increase in catches.”
Price-wise, the season high shore price of $11/pound began to drop in early April, settling out at $7 by mid-month.
“The U.S. market hasn’t been strong at all this year,” said Cotter and demand on the Chinese market has slowed down. Add to that the other lobster seasons opening up across Atlantic Canada, those are among the reasons for the price drop said Cotter.
Lobster quality has been good this spring, said Cotter. “We were running about 25 per cent culls all winter. Now we’re down to 10 per cent.”
In 2018, 7,979,736 kgs of lobster were landed in LFA 33 (Eastern Passage, Halifax County to Baccaro, Shelburne County), with a landed value of $133,535,055. In LFA 34 (Baccaro, Shelburne County to Burn’s Point, Digby County), 18,932,200 kgs of lobster were landed in 2018, worth $297,620,492 wharf-side.
Lobster is the largest single commodity shipped by both value and volume from Halifax Stanfield International Airport. In 2018, 11,495 metric tonnes of lobster valued at $215.7 million was shipped from Halifax to overseas markets. The total seafood export value out of Halifax International in 2018 was $232 million.