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DFO will consider snow crab season extensions (not necessarily a fall fishery)

Given the “difficult” market conditions, Fisheries and Oceans will consider industry proposals to extend 2023 snow crab season dates, but the final decision will be done on an area-by-area basis, and factor in landings, the presence of soft-shell, and the availability of buyers/processors.

The fishing vessel Jessica and Jane tied up on the southside of St. John's harbour, with the Battery in the background.

Of course, the availability of buyers/processors should not factor into ANY DFO decisions.

But then "market factors" were a consideration last year in DFO's decision not to issue sampling permits to get the capelin fishery up and running off eastern Newfoundland.

Again, the seafood market is NOT DFO's business.

The department should stick to science, conservation, and enforcement — not markets and commercial viability.


When asked if DFO would consider proposals for a fall crab fishery, the department said fall fisheries have been attempted before, but have resulted in high incidence of soft-shell and catches mostly consisting of new shell crab with low meat yield "that is not acceptable to the markets."

DFO's management plan for Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab specifically mentions a 2017 pilot project by Memorial University and the Marine Institute on crab meat yield that assessed the biological and market viability of a fall fishery.

The pilot project apparently found that snow crab typically caught during a fall fishery were comprised of new, hard-shelled animals that have a low meat content, "which affects market price of snow crab in the following season."

SEA-NL asked DFO on April 17th for a copy of the pilot project report, but we're still waiting.

Jeff Loder of the Association of Seafood Producers said local crab processors will not be buying snow crab in the fall of 2023 under any circumstances.

But then it's hard to listen to Jeff Loder lay down the law when that law is wrong.

Processors can ship live snow crab from other provinces/countries into Newfoundland and Labrador for processing, but the inshore fleet can't truck or fly out live crab to other markets for a better price.

Who can justify that?

What's also wrong is the warped belief that a provincial government-controlled fish price-setting system could even replace a free and open market in delivering the best possible price for fish to the inshore fleet.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director

SEA-NL Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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