Canada extends Newfoundland snow crab season for second time

Published on
July 12, 2023
A snow crab harvester sorting their catch.

The Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has issued a notice to all fish harvesters that the snow crab season in certain areas of Newfoundland and Labrador has once again been extended.

The DFO first extended the season in late June after a six-week standoff over pricing led harvesters to stay tied at the dock until 19 May – over a month after the fishery opened on 10 April. That delay led the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), which represents harvesters in the region, to say it believed the full 54,737 metric tons (MT) would not be caught.

The first extension was in response to the lack of catch to give fishermen more time to access the resource. The latest extension, FFAW Director of Public Affairs Courtney Glode told SeafoodSource, was also at the union’s request.

“We’ve requested longer extensions and will continue to do so as long as the resource remains in good condition, to harvest and process NL’s full quota,” she said.

The DFO extended all crab fishing areas in NAFO sub-Division 3Ps –10A, 10B, 11S, 11W, and 11E. The fishery in that area will now close at 8 p.m. on 21 July, 2023 – extended from 14 July. Fishing in NAFO Division 3K areas 3B, 3BC, 3C, 3D, and Area 4 have also been extended, and will now close on 21 July.

The DFO announced no changes to fishing in area 3A, which was previously extended to 29 July.

The extension comes as Newfoundland and Labrador are still nowhere close to catching the entire snow crab quota. According to DFO statistics, across all divisions, the fishery has caught 34,915 MT of crab as of 10 July. While that total is 12,575 MT ahead of the total catch on 22 June, the last time extensions were announced, it is still only 64 percent of the way to the full quota.

At the rate of catch since 22 June – roughly 700 MT per day – by 21 July the fishery will have caught 41,915 MT of crab – still more than 10,000 MT less than the quota allocated to fishermen.

Fishermen will have slightly more incentive to continue fishing – current prices for snow crab increased slightly to CAD 2.30 (USD 1.73, EUR 1.57) per pound on 9 July – up from CAD 2.23 (USD 1.68, EUR 1.53) the week before.  

Photo courtesy of the Government of Canada

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