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The lobster fishery in the Gulf region

The lobster fishery in the Gulf region

Sustainable. Cultural. Historical. Social.

About the lobster

The American lobster (Homarus americanus) is widespread in coastal waters from southern Labrador to New Jersey (United States), and the main fisheries are concentrated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine.

*Source: The Lobster Council of Canada

A fishery anchored in our history

Archaeological digs show that Aboriginal peoples have fished lobster for centuries using various fishing gear. Upon their arrival in North America, European settlers also began to harvest this resource.
1868 Adoption of the first Fisheries Act
1873 An order prohibited the harvest of soft-shelled lobster, berried females and lobsters weighing less than 1.5 pounds
1934 Creation of the first fishing areas
1967 Limited entry licensing was implemented to cap the number of licence holders
1977 A program was undertaken to reduce the number of fishing enterprises, and 600 licences were retired from the Gulf-based fishery
1982 Implementation of the “Bonafide” fishermen policy, which paved the way for fisheries management in the interest of the fishermen
1990 The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Sparrow held that Aboriginal rights to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes have priority over all other uses of the fishery
1999 In the Marshall decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760–61 affirmed the right of certain Aboriginal groups in Quebec and Atlantic Canada to participate in commercial harvesting of lobster, among other species
1995 the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) produced a report on the status of the lobster stocks that stated that “we are taking too much and leaving too little."
2007 2nd FRCC report focused mainly on setting a conservation target, reducing fishing effort and the need for fish harvesters to provide comprehensive data about their fishing activities and landings
2009 Adoption of the $65 million Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures (ALSM) program, which resulted in the removal of over 24,000 lobster traps and the retirement of 280 lobster fishing licences

The fishery within the community


Managing the resource for the future

The lobster fishery in the Gulf Region has been certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council for a few years. The industry is committed to conserving the resource and to protecting the ecosystem.


Exports that pay off*

In 2014, lobster exports represented:

Export value

NB 2012: $476,000; 2013: $494,000; 2014: $631,000 and 2015: $666,000
NS 2012: $374,000; 2013: $435,000; 2014: $576,000 and 2015: $733,000
P.E.I. 2012: $134,000; 2013: $144,000; 2014: $199,000 and 2015: $182,000

The United States is the primary export market for lobster from the Maritime provinces, followed by China and Europe.
Lobster exports from Maritime provinces to European countries have yielded $149 M (9%), exports to the United States have yielded $1,278 M (75%), and exports to Asia have yielded $285 M (16%).

*Statistics Canada. Export data is for New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia combined. Gulf Region-only data on exports are not provided.

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