Shea defends snow crab quota cuts


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 20, 2010

Canadian fisheries minister Gail Shea and her provincial counterparts from Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on Tuesday met in Ottawa to discuss the future of the Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery.

Earlier this month, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans slashed the Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab quotas by 63 percent. The total allowable catch (TAC) dropped from 20,400 metric tons in 2009 to 7,700 metric tons this year.

On Tuesday, Shea reiterated that the quota cuts are based on “solid science” and that conservation is critical to ensure that snow crab stocks rebound. In 2012, stocks are expected to bounce back, she added, if they’re properly managed and if “normal” survival rates occur.

Shea said the DFO is establishing guidelines for setting the annual TAC to help to minimize the risks of adversely affecting the biomass. The approach is designed to further support conservation and improve the longer-term predictability of fishery management decisions so that the industry can plan ahead.

“Stabilizing access is the only logical path to a profitable fishery, as it allows fleets to better plan their fishing operations over the long-term,” said Shea.

In addition to the quota cuts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a price dispute between Newfoundland fishermen and the government and an unfavorable exchange rate are making for an uncertain 2010 for the Canadian snow crab market. To read this week’s SeafoodSource market report on snow crab, click here.

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