Snow crab fishery begins MSC assessment
Newfoundland and Labrador’s highest value fishery, the snow crab fishery, has entered into Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) assessment.
The client for the assessment is the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) and the method of capture is by pot. The fishery takes place off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador both in the Canadian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in adjacent international waters within a number of defined crab management areas (CMA). There are four Units of Certification for this fishery based on four geographical areas: Division 2J, Division 3K, Division 3LNO and Division 3Ps.
If certified, snow crab from these areas landed in Newfoundland and Labrador will be eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel if the product is processed by a member company of ASP. Additionally, the Association has committed to allowing all processors of snow crab in the province to participate in the client group for the snow crab assessment under fair and equitable terms for sharing the cost of assessment.
Harvesting starts in the early spring depending on the area and fishing season. Weather and the presence of ice is a large factor affecting the start of the season. The season is timed to avoid the mating period and reduce the catch of soft shell crab in the summer post-moult period. In recent years, total landings have been approximately 50,000mt annually.
There are numerous snow crab processing facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador with significant capacity reflecting the highly seasonal nature of the fishery and the need for all crab to be delivered live for processing. After entering the facility the snow crab is cooked and processed into frozen sections for market. The most important markets are the USA and Japan. Other buyers include China, Thailand and Europe.