Another North Atlantic winter has set in and the water temperatures have dropped, as have the catches in the southwest Nova Scotia lobster fishery going into February.
“The last week or so it’s come in cold. The catches have dropped down quite a bit in the last week,” said Lockeport lobster buyer Mike Cotter of Cotter’s Ocean Products.
“The weather turned. It hasn’t been good all along, but the guys have been able to manage it. We’ve seen guys go out and fish through the night. In normal years they didn’t do that, especially the inside boats, but the price being so high has been the driving force,” said Cotter.
By the end of January, the shore price was $12/pound, up from an opening price of $10/pound. “The price is a lot higher than it was this time last year. That’s made a big difference,” said Cotter.
As for the volume of landings, Cotter said catches are on par compared to the same time period as last year.
“The quality has been excellent. We can’t complain. The only problem with the weather being bad these last few weeks we’re seeing an increase in the number of culls, up 10 per cent compared to this time last year. You can blame it on the rough weather and you can blame it on the cold because a lot of times the way the lobster is handled and when it’s real cold, they shoot their claws off.”
Market-wise, Cotter said Europe has been “real dry these last three weeks. It’s been bad in Europe. Overall, we’re depending on the Chinese market. The biggest problem the last two weeks are the cancellations. A lot of product makes it to Toronto and get cancelled up there. That’s been a real pain these last two weeks. Cancellations in Halifax is bad enough. You get a cancellation, you bring it back no big deal. But when stuff is flown to Toronto and the adjourning flight is cancelled and product is sent back, that’s creating a major problem. That’s when you start losing some serious money.”
Going into February, the Halifax Stanfield International Airport had three weekly direct flights to Asian markets, as well as further connectivity into China through Europe, said Leah Batstone, communications advisor for the Halifax International Airport Authority.
“Due to the ongoing global effects of COVID-19, cargo activity continues to be somewhat limited this month (January),” she said.
It’s been two years since we first began feeling the effects of COVID-19 on air cargo at Halifax Stanfield, said Batstone.
“These effects have evolved over time, but they continue to be felt today. For example, the pandemic has resulted in global supply chain challenges, creating demand for cargo aircraft that outweighs the supply. Additionally, we continue to see temporary lockdowns, especially in China, that can reduce the number of flights heading to those markets,” she said.
Overall, in 2021, air cargo activity at Halifax Stanfield remained strong, said Batstone. From January to November, the volume of cargo processed at the airport was up six per cent, compared to the same period in 2020.
“Looking at exports specifically, from January to September, our overall export volume was up 14 per cent and value was up nine per cent, compared to the same period in 2020,” she said.
Year end cargo data is expected to be available sometime in March and will be shared publicly once it’s available.
The Air Cargo Logistics Park building at Halifax International is slated to be open sometime this spring and fully operational later this year, said Batstone.
“The tenants are currently fitting up their spaces and making significant investments in the facility. With the new aircraft aprons already available, and cold storage capabilities coming soon, the Air Cargo Logistics Park will make shipping live seafood products by air even easier for Nova Scotia producers. Shipping by air is the most effective way to transport live seafood products, especially lobster, because it results in more efficient delivery, better quality products and lower mortality rates.”