DFO Canada meets with provinces on Southern Gulf snow crab fishery

22 Apr 2010
Snow crab. Credit: NOAA

Snow crab. Credit: NOAA

Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, recently met with her provincial counterparts from Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to discuss issues affecting the snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf of St Lawrence.

Fishing fleets are scheduled to begin their annual snow crab harvest this week. With the crab stock at a low point in its natural cycle of abundance, the 2010 fishery poses particular challenges.

For conservation purposes, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has set the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2010 at 7,700 tonnes. The 63% reduction in quota reflects the significant drop in biomass this year as a result of the natural life cycle of the crab in this zone, which sees stocks increase and decrease in cycles of about 10 years, the last high peak being observed in 2004.

DFO places a high priority on the long-term sustainability of the snow crab resource. This reduction in the allowable catch is based on solid science evidence and knowledge gained from previous cycles that indicates conservation of snow crab stocks throughout the low points in their abundance cycle is critical to ensuring subsequent periods of high abundance. In fact, current evidence points to an increase in abundance in 2012 as long as normal, natural survival rates take place.

The 2010 snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will close on 18 July.

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