Lobster Fishing in Canada: 18 Facts

18 facts on lobster fishing in Canada cover

As Canada’s most valuable seafood export, lobster is an incredibly important food source for local fishermen in the Atlantic provinces. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the volume of lobster caught every year is an indicator of prosperity, showing just how important this ocean-going crustacean is for local economies on Canada’s East Coast [1].

With more than 97,000 tonnes of lobster landed along the Atlantic coast in 2018 worth more than $1.4 billion [2], it’s easy to see why the industry is a major mainstay for many coastal Canadian communities.

Below we explore several facts about lobster fishing in Canada, the most recently available statistics. Also see:

18 Facts on the Canadian Lobster Industry

#1 - Canada’s Atlantic fishermen landed more than 97,000 tonnes of lobster in 2018, worth more than $1.4 billion [2]

#2 - The Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to special fisheries for “canner” lobsters, which are slightly smaller than the “market’ sizes and are typically used for canned lobster products [2]

#3 - Lobsters are not native to the Pacific coast of Canada, but between 1896 and 1966 there were several attempts to introduce American lobsters into B.C. waters [2]

#4 - In 2022, lobster landings in Newfoundland and Labrador increased by 21% year-over-year to 6,052 tonnes, while landed value grew 25% to $105 million [3]

#5 - In 2022, Newfoundland and Labrador exported 2,214 tonnes of lobster valued at $85 million, a drop of 27% and 30% respectively, year-over-year [3]

#6 - The United States accounted for 67% of all Newfoundland and Labrador lobster exports in 2022 [3]

#7 - Nova Scotia’s 2022-2023 lobster season was not a record year, but landings still totalled $450 million [5]

#8 - Nearly 60% of Nova Scotia’s lobster is exported to buyers in the United States [6]

#9 - Shelburne Country, Nova Scotia, is situated near some of the richest lobster fishing grounds in the world, making it the lobster capital of Canada. For centuries, lobster fisheries have been the economic backbone for all communities in Shelburne county, dating back to the mid-1800s [4].

#10 - Most lobster fishing in Canada is found in the Gulf of Maine, Bay of Fundy, Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and Coastal Nova Scotia [1]

#11 - Approximately 50% of lobster caught by Prince Edward Island fisheries are considered “canners,” smaller lobsters weighing between 275-425 grams [7]

#12 - In 2023, Prince Edward Island fisheries caught approximately 30 million pounds of lobster, which multiplied by $8 per pound, is millions and millions of dollars worth of economic activity coming into Canada’s smallest province [8]

#13 - New Brunswick caught nearly 16,393 tonnes of lobster in 2020, accounting for 22.2% of all seafood landings in the province [9]

#14 - Of New Brunswick’s $301.6 million of seafood exports in 2020, lobster accounted for 56.1% - or $169.1 million of revenues, down 44% year-over-year due to prices and volume of landings [9]

#15 - New Brunswick lobster exports totalled $693.1 million in 2020, down 28% year-over-year [9]

#16 – Approximately 1,500 fishermen earn their living from lobster fishing in Quebec, with thousands more across the Atlantic provinces [10]

#17 – Lobster landings in Quebec are estimated at more than $200 million annually [10]

#18 - A majority of Canadian lobster fishing takes place in shallow waters less than 40 metres deep and within 15 kilometres of shore, although some fisheries will operate much further out and in waters up to 200 metres deep [1]

#19 - In 2022, Canada was the top exporter of prepared or preserved lobster in the world, valued at USD $351 million, down by $189 million year-over-year  [11]

Sustainable Lobster Fishing in Canada

Like with all other natural resource sectors, Canada’s lobster fisheries take extensive measures to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the sector. In fact, lobster farming in Canada has one of the longest histories of regulation dating back to the 1870s, when measures were put in place to protect egg-bearing females.

Other lobster sustainability measures include:

  • Limited licensing permits with limited traps allowed
  • Limited and staggered fishing seasons to protect summer moults (eggs)
  • Minimum lobster sizes to increase the likelihood that lobsters reach full adult maturity and reproduce
  • Trap designs that allow small lobsters to escape
  • Ongoing monitoring and enforcement of fishing regulations and licensing conditions

Join Us Today!

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Canada’s sustainable lobster industry helps put food on the table for thousands of families across the Atlantic provinces, something all Canadians can and should support. Thank an Atlantic fisherman the next time you eat a tasty lobster from the East Coast!

Join us today to learn more about all parts of Canada’s world-class natural resource industries and support the hard-working families that rely on these industries as a means of living.

SOURCES:

1 - https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/lobster-homard-eng.html

2 - https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/crustacean-resources

3 - https://www.gov.nl.ca/ffa/files/Seafood-Industry-Year-in-Review-2022.pdf

4 - https://www.barringtonmunicipality.com/Visiting-Us/lobster

5 - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/lobster-wharf-price-hits-18-dollars-a-pound-in-nova-scotia-1.7135374

6 - https://novascotia.ca/fish/commercial-fisheries/industry-overview/

7 - https://princeedwardislandseafood.com/portfolio/lobster/

8 - https://thestarfish.ca/journal/2024/02/interview-with-a-lobster-fishermen-in-pei

9 - https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/10/pdf/Publications/Fish-Peches/review-fisheries-2020.pdf

10 - https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/the-200-million-lobster-season-is-underway-in-quebec-1.6376904

11 - https://oec.world/en/profile/hs/lobster-prepared-or-preserved