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Lobster Fishing Areas 27 - 38
Integrated Fisheries Management Plan

The 2022 Lobster IFMP has replaced this content.

American Lobster
American Lobster
(Homarus americanus))


The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the inshore lobster fishery in Maritimes Region, namely Lobster Fishing Areas 27-38, as well as the tactics that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to employees of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic rules for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

Through IFMPs, DFO Maritimes Region intends to implement an ecosystem approach to management across all marine fisheries. The approach considers impacts extending beyond those affecting the target species and, in this respect, is consistent with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Implementation will take place in a step by step, evolutionary way, building on existing management processes. Advances will be made incrementally, beginning with the highest priorities and issues that offer the greatest scope for progress.

This IFMP is not a legally binding instrument that can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act . The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act .

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claims agreements, the provisions of the land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

Signed: Regional Director, Fisheries Management, Maritimes Region

Table of contents

1. Overview of the fishery
2. Stock assessment and status
3. Social, cultural and economic importance of the fishery
4. Management issues
5. Objectives
6. Strategies
7. Tactical and management measures
8. Access and allocation
9. Shared stewardship arrangements
10. Compliance plan
11. Performance review
12. Monitoring
13. Plan enhancement

1. Overview of the fishery

1.1 History

Inshore lobster is 1 of the oldest managed fisheries in Canada. The harvesting of inshore lobster can be traced back to pre-colonial times when it was an important food source for Aboriginal peoples who harvested lobster (jakej) through the spring and fall using traps and spears.

By the mid-eighteenth century, various trapping methods had been developed to catch lobsters, culminating in the evolution to the parlour trap in the early 1900s that still forms the basis for the types of traps in use today.

In 1884, the first lobster cannery was established. This helped shift the sale of locally harvested lobster away from a strictly domestic market to a more international market, predominantly Great Britain. The sale of live lobsters has expanded significantly and this product form has been the mainstay of the industry since the Second World War.

Since the late 1800s, numerous regulations have been applied to the lobster fishery. Most regulations initially were based on market requirements and considerations and not on biological concerns. In 1873, the first regulatory measures were introduced to establish restrictions on soft shell lobsters and egg bearing females. Fishing seasons were introduced in the Bay of Fundy area as early as 1879, with additional size restrictions coming into play in 1899. However, throughout the late 1800s and up until the mid-1900s enforcement of these initial regulations was very sporadic and inconsistent. Figure 1 outlines the historical trend in landings and shows where some of the regulations were introduced.

Following almost a century of varied and inconsistent management and regulatory approaches, the present day fishery is the result of a number of initiatives first introduced in the late 1960s. In 1967, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) introduced a limited entry licensing policy for portions of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and expanded this application of the policy to the remainder of the Maritimes in 1968. Prior to that, no restrictions were in place for acquisition of a lobster licence. Along with limiting the number of licences, the department introduced trap limits and defined boundaries for most of the modern day lobster fishing areas (LFAs).

In 1976, the so called moonlighter policy was introduced with the aim of removing from the fishery those not dependent on it for their primary source of income. Three categories of licences were created:

  1. Category A licences for those fully dependent on the fishery;
  2. Category B for those not fully dependent but with a historical attachment to the lobster fishery since 1968; and
  3. Category C licences that had little or no dependency and which expired in 2 years.

Category B licences were eligible to fish 1/3 of the trap limit for a Category A licence. Under The Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada , 1996, Category B licences have never been transferable and expire upon the death of the licence holder.

Graphic illustrating seasonal offshore lobster and Jonah crab landings in 4X,5 with lobster TAC

Figure 1: Historical landings and introductions of regulations


Figure 1: This charts shows the historical landings from the lobster fisheries and introductions of regulations.

In 1978 to 1981, a lobster licence buy-back program was implemented to reduce the number of participants and in particular those who were not dependent on the fishery. Approximately 1500 licences were retired in Nova Scotia (1406) and southwest New Brunswick (170).

In the mid to late 1980s, regulations were strengthened to include requirements for escape vents and biodegradable panels to be installed in lobster traps to limit ghost fishing (capture due to lost, dumped or abandoned fishing gear). In 1995, following a decline in landings from the 1991 peak, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada requested that the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) review the state of the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada. Their report, A Conservation Framework for Atlantic Lobster (FRCC95.R.1), concluded that the elements key to achieving a healthy fishery are good egg production, a reasonable mortality and a biomass composed of several year classes. In 1997, after 2 years of consultation, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans identified as a target the doubling of eggs per recruit as a means of conserving and sustaining lobster stocks. A 4-year period, from 1998 to 2001, was the timeframe fishermen had to put in place measures that would achieve the doubling target at some future point.

At the direction of the Assistant Deputy Ministers of Science and Fisheries Management, a small DFO working group was formed to examine the results of the 4-year plans to double eggs per recruit (1998-2001). The Report of the Lobster Conservation Working Group (2001) indicated that the management changes in Maritimes Region LFAs were relatively minor and that by-and-large they failed to meet the specific target of doubling eggs per recruit. There were 2 notable exceptions to this, LFA 27, which had implemented significant minimum size increases, and LFA 30, which was already at or above the target level set by the FRCC of 5% egg production expected in an un-fished population. Changes that did occur included minor increases in minimum legal carapace size, a maximum size on females in LFA 30, a window size restriction in LFA 31A and adoption of a voluntary v-notching program by harvesters in all LFAs except LFA 31A and LFA 27.

In July 2007, the FRCC published their second report, Sustainability Framework for Atlantic Lobster , in which they identified low eggs per recruit, poor stock structure, high exploitation rates and poor compliance as the 4 key risks to the long-term sustainability of the Atlantic inshore lobster fishery. In response to the FRCC recommendations, Maritimes Region identified 3 priorities:

  1. improve the accuracy of information and data collected and specifically improve the reporting of landings (logs);
  2. implement measures in each LFA to provide more protection for mature female lobsters (broodstock) and begin to identify issues associated with expanding effort and exploitation levels; and
  3. improve the overall governance and stewardship of the resource through the consultation process.

As a result of these recommendations the requirement to submit lobster monitoring documents was added to the licence conditions. Progress has been slow in addressing the latter 2 concerns.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in R. v. Sparrow. In this landmark decision, the Court provided meaning and context to the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35(1) and held that, after conservation and other “valid legislative objectives”, Aboriginal rights to fish for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes have priority over all other uses of the fishery. Through the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, DFO provides a framework for the management of fishing by Aboriginal peoples for FSC purposes. Agreements are negotiated and the Minister or delegate issues a communal licence to reflect the agreement reached, or when an agreement is not reached, the Minister issues a communal fishing licence consistent with the provisions of Sparrow and subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

1.2 Type of fishery

Currently, the inshore lobster fishery consists mainly of a large commercial fishery, which occurs throughout Maritimes Region, and an FSC fishery. There are also opportunities for educational licences. There is currently no authorized recreational harvesting of lobster. Any development of a recreational fishery would require additional policy research and would occur under provisions of the Atlantic Marine Recreational Fisheries Policy.

1.2.1 Commercial

The commercial fishery is licensed under the Fishery (General) Regulations of the Fisheries Act and, in the case of Aboriginal groups, the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations . Regulations specific to commercial lobster fishing are contained in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations  and LFA-specific licence conditions.

1.2.2 Food, social and ceremonial

The FSC fishery is licensed under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations . The fishery is a cultural and sustenance activity undertaken by First Nations and other Aboriginal groups. DFO develops agreements for Aboriginal fishing for FSC purposes. Through these agreements, licences are issued outlining the locations, methods, gear types, timeframes and other conditions for the FSC fishery. The resources fished using an FSC licence are used communally to provide food and support the traditional social and ceremonial activities of the First Nations community or Aboriginal groups.

1.2.3 Educational

Charter boat excursions promoting the lobster fishing experience have been popular with tourists. In the early 2000s, Maritimes Region approved a number of requests for an educational licence to support this. As interest increased, a regional policy was developed (Educational Licence Policy – Lobster / Rock Crab) to ensure consistency in the issuance of these licences and proper management of the activity.

The policy allows for educational licences to be issued with an allocation of up to 3 modified (non-fishable) lobster or rock crab traps that can be set within an area and for a period of time specified in the licence. A handful of grandfathered individuals remain eligible for educational licences that authorize the use of regular (fishable) traps. Regardless of which type of trap is authorized, the licence holder is required to release back to the water any lobsters or other species that may be captured.

Those issued an educational licence are expected to have at least 1 individual on board the vessel with a general knowledge of the fishery and they are expected to promote resource conservation with clients. In this way, the policy promotes tourism and public education and it supports the diversification of economic opportunities within coastal communities. Licences are available to core fish harvesters, charter boat operators and Aboriginal groups. Applications and renewals can be made online through the DFO Maritimes Region website .

1.3 Participants

1.3.1 Commercial

Almost all Maritime Region coastal communities are now involved in the inshore lobster fishery. With few exceptions, all of the approximately 3,000 licences are active during the lobster season, employing approximately 7,500 fishermen. Starting in 1999, in response to the Marshall Response Initiative, Aboriginal access to the commercial fishery has been increased.

Participants are issued a licence that provides access to a specified LFA. The inshore fishing areas consist of LFAs 27 through 38. Current numbers and types of licences by LFA are presented in Table 1. No licences are issued solely for LFA 37. LFA 37 is a small area that is shared by those with a licence for either LFA 36 or LFA 38. When fishing in LFA 37, LFA 36 and 38 licence holders are subject to the conditions of their primary fishing area.

A summer fishery is authorized within the western portion of LFA 38 outside of the regular LFA 38 season. The portion of LFA 38 fished during the summer is referred to as Area 38B (the Disputed Zone). The area is claimed as territorial waters by both Canada and the United States. All fish harvesters holding an LFA 38 licence are eligible to apply for an Area 38B licence. Applications must be made annually. The number of vessels active in the Area 38B fishery has increased in recent years from under 10 to close to 60.

Table 1: Number and type of lobster licences by LFA (as of 31 December, 2018).
LFA Category A Category B Communal commercial Total
27 491* 12 12 515
28 7 0 7 14
29 53 5 5 63
30 20 0 0 20
31A 68 3 0 71
31B 70 0 0 70
32 147 4 6 157
33 634 28 21 683
34 944 0 35 979
35 75 2 17 94
36 161 1 15 177
38 119 1 16 136
All 2,789 56 134 2,979

*Includes 35 licences based in Gulf Region. Source: Maritimes Region Licensing Summary Report (LS4041A) and Gulf Region Licensing Office.

In April 2007, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced the Policy for Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries (PIIFCAF) intended to promote a commercial fishery in Atlantic Canada with a strong independent inshore sector. PIIFCAF created the independent core category as new eligibility criteria for the receipt of new or replacement inshore fishing licences. All heads of core enterprises, including those who have inshore lobster licences issued in their name, are now required to declare their status as independent core, meaning not party to controlling agreements with respect to the inshore fishing licences issued in their name.

Under PIIFCAF, if the department has reason to believe that a licence holder has been categorized as independent core but does not meet the criteria for the independent core category, the licence holder’s categorization is reviewed. If a licence holder is found to not meet the criteria for the independent core category, they will not be eligible to be issued the licence that is subject to the controlling agreement in the following or subsequent years.

Since 1968, licensing policy has allowed 2 lobster harvesters (Category A) to form a partnership. Under a regular partnership, 2 licence holders fish using 1 vessel that is licensed for 150% of the trap limit for a single licence. Both operators must be on board. In 2008, an economically difficult period, a new option became available to licence holders where 2 independent core licence holders were permitted to form a flexible partnership. In a flexible partnership, only 1 of the licence holders was required to be on board the vessel. In 2017, following departmental consideration of flexible partnerships, it was concluded it was important, in support of the independence in owner-operator fisheries, to remove this policy option. Regular partnerships continue to be an option for lobster licence holders.

Independent core licence holders have also been able to acquire, by transfer, a second licence that is stacked with the existing licence in the enterprise. The new licence can be fished with 150% of the trap limit of a single licence. The licence holder must be the operator. The 2 stacked licences can later be unstacked and reissued to other eligible persons, subject to all applicable licensing policy provisions.

In the fall of 2016, policy restrictions were introduced in response to concerns that some of the flexibilities made available to the lobster fishery were being used to circumvent the requirements set out in PIIFCAF by unintentionally supporting licence leasing. There were also concerns that those who formed partnerships mid-season could too easily acquire additional tags and that this was leading to an increase in licence holders fishing above the trap limits.

As a result, 2 restrictions were introduced to:

  1. eliminate the option of in-season partnering: while partnerships can be dissolved during the season, they now have to be formed before the season opens; and
  2. limit in-season substitute operator authorizations to instances where the substitute operator is fishing on behalf of the licence holder using the licence holder’s gear and vessel.

The PIIFCAF policy does not apply to communal commercial licences.

1.3.2 Food, social and ceremonial

The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy of 1992 provides access and allocation of lobster resources to Aboriginal people for their FSC purposes.

1.4 Location of the fishery

The Maritime Region of DFO extends north from the maritime boundary separating Canada from the United States (the Hague Line). The region consists of the entire Bay of Fundy and all Nova Scotian waters along the Atlantic coast to the tip of Cape Breton. A map of LFAs in Maritimes Region is presented in Figure 2. The coordinates for each LFA are specified in Schedule XIII of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations , 1985.

All fishing occurs inside of 50 nautical miles from shore (90 km) and in eastern Nova Scotia most activity is within 15 km of shore. The 50 nautical mile line divides the inshore lobster fishery (LFAs 27-38) from the offshore lobster fishery (LFA 41). The offshore fishery is managed under a separate IFMP.

Map of Lobster Fishing Areas in Maritimes Region

Figure 2: Lobster Fishing Areas in Maritimes Region

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The fishery is prosecuted almost entirely by vessels less than 13.7m (45’) length overall (LOA). In LFAs 33 and 34 there is a maximum vessel length of 13.7m. Stern extensions may be added to LFA 33 and 34 vessels, but where the vessels are at maximum length, the extensions cannot exceed 1.52 m (5’). In all other Maritimes Region LFAs, vessels up to 19.8m (65’) LOA may be used.

Table 2: Current tactical management measures.
LFA Season Trap limit¹ Minimum Legal size (mm) Other measures
27 May 15 - July 15 275 82.5  
28 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max. entrance hoop 153mm
29 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max. entrance hoop 153mm
30 May 19 - July 20 250 82.5 Max. CL-135mm (female)
31A April 29 - June 30 250 82.5 Closed window (female),
114-124 mm
31B April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notching²
32 April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notching²
33 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 250 82.5  
34 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 375/400 82.5  

Oct 14 - Dec 31 and
Last day Feb - July 31

300 82.5  

2nd Tues Nov - Jan 14 and
March 31 - June 29

300 82.5  

2nd Tues Nov - Jan 14 and
March 31 - June 29

38 2nd Tues Nov – Jun 29 375 82.5  
38B June 30 – Fri before 2nd Tues Nov 375 82.5  

¹The trap limit is for a Category A licence (full-time). A Category B licence (part-time) is allowed 30% of the limit of a Category A licence and a licence fished under a partnership or stacking arrangement, 150%.
²V-notching means there is an active program to v-notch female lobsters. There is a possession restriction of v‑notched lobsters in all other LFAs except in LFA 27 and LFA 31A.

Season lengths generally range from 8 weeks to approximately 6 months. Seasons, trap limits and other management measures are presented in Table 2.

1.6 Governance

The IFMP for inshore lobster is governed by a number of pieces of legislation and policies including, but not limited to, those noted below.

General regulatory requirements for licensing and registration are found in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985 (AFR), Part II. Regulations specific to the lobster fishery are further outlined in Part VI of these regulations. The Fishery (General) Regulations provide the basis for lobster licence conditions and the authority to issue variation orders to change minimum legal carapace sizes and season dates from time to time. Changes to season dates are usually due to inclement weather or ice conditions that could potentially affect the safe opening of an LFA. The Fishery (General) Regulations  provide the basis for control over incidental catches.

Since the mid-1980s, advisory committees have acted as the primary vehicles through which industry provides advice to government on management measures affecting the fishery. In most LFAs, a representative and an alternate are elected or appointed by licence holders in their port cluster or geographic area. LFA-specific advisory committee meetings are normally co-chaired by DFO representatives within Maritimes Region area offices and a representative from the industry.

In 2007, the Maritimes Region Lobster Advisory Committee was reinstated. This larger body has representation from each LFA and deals with issues that affect all LFAs or groups of LFAs (Bay of Fundy for example). The committee meets as required or at least once annually and produces formal minutes.

Currently there is no single representative body for the lobster industry in Atlantic Canada.

1.7 Approval process

Licence conditions are reviewed and updated annually. Changes are consulted on and explained to the industry at advisory committee meetings, which are held in every LFA in advance of the opening of the season.

Many decisions affecting the day to day operation of the fishery, such opening dates and times, storage of gear, tag replacement policies and enforcement priorities, are approved by DFO area offices. Resource Management within Maritimes Region Regional Headquarters leads on operational matters affecting LFA 35, as LFA 35 overlaps with multiple DFO areas. See Table 3 for more information.

Table 3: Maritimes Region offices with operational lead for each LFA.
LFA Operational lead
27-32 Eastern Nova Scotia Area Office, Sydney
33-34 Southwest Nova Scotia Area Office, Yarmouth
35 Regional Headquarters, Dartmouth
36-38 Southwest New Brunswick Area Office, St. George

Operational leads are responsible for scheduling and chairing advisory committee meetings.

Operational and policy decisions affecting multiple LFAs are generally made within DFO Regional Headquarters. DFO senior management and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans can be involved in decisions with broad implications.

2. Stock assessment and status

2.1 Biological synopsis

2.1.1 Distribution

The North American lobster (Homarus americanus) is widely distributed in coastal waters from southern Labrador to Maryland, with the major fisheries concentrated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine (Figure 3). Lobsters are also found in deeper waters (down to 750 m) in the Gulf of Maine and along the outer edge of the continental shelf from Sable Island to off North Carolina. This deep water distribution is due to the presence of the warm slope water that keeps the slope and deep basins in the Gulf of Maine warm year-round. This warm deep water is not found on the eastern Scotian Shelf, in the Gulf of St Lawrence or off Newfoundland.

Lobsters are a temperate species that require sufficiently warm summer temperatures to grow, produce and hatch their eggs. Juvenile and adult lobsters can exist in waters from less than 0°C to approximately 25°C. Larval lobsters occur in surface waters between 6°C and 25°C, though a minimum temperature of approximately 10-12°C appears to be required for successful development to the settlement phase (stage IV). Larval development is temperature dependent and takes just 10 days at 22-24°C but over 2 months at 10°C.

At the northern limit of their range (northern Newfoundland) summer temperatures remain too cold for ovary and egg development, while at the southern limit of their range (Maryland coastal and off Cape Hatteras along the slope edge) winter temperatures remain too warm and the moulting and reproductive cycles are not synchronized.

Map of Eastern North American lobster distribution

Figure 3: Eastern North American lobster distribution.

Lobsters are found on many different bottom types from mud and sand to cobble and boulders. Young lobsters often seek shelter to avoid predators so are more restricted in their habitat than larger lobsters. Newly settled and juvenile lobsters are most common in complex habitats, such as cobble or gravel bottoms or eel grass. They are also capable of burrowing so can also be found in areas with compact clays or peat reefs. As they grow and become less susceptible to predators they are found in more varied bottoms including open mud and sand bottoms.

2.1.2 Migrations and depth preferences

Adult lobsters make seasonal migrations to shallower waters in summer and deeper waters in winter. Mature lobsters tend to move significantly greater distances than immature animals. Over most of their range, these movements vary from a few km to 20 km. However, in the Gulf of Maine and on the outer continental shelf lobsters undertake long distance migrations of tens to hundreds of km. Tagging studies have shown that at least some of these lobsters return to the same area each year (Campbell 1986; Pezzack and Duggan 1986).

Migrations may be undertaken to optimize the temperature to which lobsters and their eggs are exposed, to avoid shallow water during stormier winter periods and to migrate to areas optimal for hatching eggs and either retention or export of larvae. The triggers for these migrations are not well understood.

Quantitative estimates of exchange rates between areas cannot be given at this time. The mark-recapture approach used in historical studies does not permit discrimination between residences and return migrations after lengthy periods at large, except where intervening recaptures of the same individual lobster are involved. The origin of the animals that are tagged in any 1 location is unknown. Determining the proportion of animals in the population that make long distance movements is confounded by regional differences in the reporting rate of recaptures and the fact that where local fisheries are intense, there is a low probability that legal-sized animals survive to move long distances. The closed season in inshore fisheries also poses a problem in that summer movements would not have been detected in these earlier studies.

2.1.3 Biology

Lobsters in the Maritime Region generally take 8-10 years to reach the legal size of 82.5 mm Carapace Length (CL). At that size they weigh approximately 0.45kg (1 pound) and moult once a year. Larger lobsters moult less often, with a 1.4kg (3 pound) lobster moulting every 2 to 3 years. The largest recorded lobster was 20kg (44lb). The maximum age of lobsters is unknown but based on growth information and long term holding studies it is believed to be in the range of 50 years.

The usual reproductive pattern is for the mature female to mate in late summer while in a soft shell condition immediately after moulting (Figure 4). The male transfers a spermatophore into the seminal receptacle at the base of the female’s tail. Over the next year the eggs develop in the female’s ovaries and during the following summer the eggs are extruded and fertilized, then attach to the underside of the tail. The eggs are then carried for 10-12 months and hatch the following July or August. The larvae spend approximately 4-6 weeks chiefly in the surface waters, although they undergo a daily vertical migration. Halfway through Stage IV they leave the surface waters and actively seek preferential habitat, which is typically characterized by rough gravel or cobble bottoms, though they can also settle in eel grass and in areas with hard clay or mud sediment that is conducive to burrowing. Stage I to IV lobsters feed on a variety of plankton species and predominantly on cladocerans, copepods and crab larvae (Harding 1992).

Image illustrating lobster life cycle

Figure 4: Lobster life cycle.

The young lobsters are vulnerable to many predators, so for the first few years on the bottom they remain in or near their shelter, then spending more and more time outside the shelter as they grow larger (Lavalli and Lawton 1996).

Little is known about the larval distribution along the inshore regions of south and eastern shores of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton as detailed circulation models are lacking. In these areas lobsters are typically more restricted to the coastal bays and it is thought that while larval exchange occurs along the coast, much of the larvae are likely retained in the local areas.

Models of ocean currents for the Gulf of Maine have been used to infer larval lobster distribution (Drinkwater, Hannah et al. 2001). It has been recognized that these models do not include lobster larval behaviours, which may influence the patterns of connectivity. These models indicate strong retention of larvae on Georges Bank. Browns Bank shows weaker retention, with potential exchange of larvae from Browns to German Bank or to the Bay of Fundy. These models show little potential for exchange from Browns Bank to the nearshore areas of southwestern Nova Scotia or the south shore inside the 50m isobath (Drinkwater, Hannah et al. 2001). The models suggest that near shore settlement is from larvae hatched in nearshore areas. There is little exchange of larvae from Browns Bank to coastal Maine but that there is potential for larvae from Maine to settle in the Browns Bank region (Xue, Incze et al. 2008).

Lobster stock structure is not fully understood, but genetic analyses looking at the entire species range observed a north/south separation with a relatively homogeneous population to the north (centered in the Gulf of St. Lawrence) and more heterogeneous populations in the south (centered in the Gulf of Maine and the Mid-Atlantic Bight region (Kenchington et al. 2009). At smaller geographical scales, studies identified areas of low gene flow between some areas, which are likely to be shaped by ocean currents and lobster migration patterns (Benestan et al. 2015).

2.1.4 Reproductive potential

Female lobsters reach maturity at different sizes and ages over their geographic range and this is thought to be controlled principally by local water temperatures (Aiken and Waddy 1986; Waddy and Aiken 1991; Comeau and Savoie 2002), maturing at smaller sizes in regions with warm summer temperatures (Gulf of St. Lawrence, southern New England) and at larger sizes in regions with cooler summer temperatures (Bay of Fundy).

The maturity measure used by scientists is the size at 50% maturity, which is the size at which half of the animals are capable of reproducing. In females this is determined through dissection or examination of the cement glands on the pleopods (swimmerets), evaluation of ovarian maturity or other metrics. Male maturity is not usually estimated due to the fact it requires dissection and because past work indicates that it occurs at a similar or slightly smaller size than the females under the same conditions. For successful mating the male needs to be similar in size or larger than the females. If males are too much larger, then mating success is reduced. Males can mate with numerous females and it has been shown that there are consequences of having too few males as mating success and clutch size is reduced through sperm limitation (Pugh 2014).

Maturity estimates are presently being re-evaluated but the best estimates available at this time are given in Figure 5 (the vertical bars represent what science considers the likely potential range).

Graphic illustrating lobster size at 50% maturity by LFA (where available)

Figure 5: Lobster size at 50% maturity by LFA (where available).


Figure 5: This chart shows the lobster size at 50% maturity by LFA, where available.

At maturity, female lobsters will usually produce eggs every second year. Based on laboratory studies using ambient inshore Bay of Fundy water temperatures, larger female lobsters appear able to spawn twice without an intervening moult (consecutive spawning) at sizes greater than 120mm CL (Waddy and Aiken 1986) though this size may vary under actual conditions (Campbell 1983; Comeau and Savoie 2001; Comeau and Savoie 2002). Consecutive spawning occurs in 2 forms: successive-year (spawning in 2 successive summers, a moult in the first and fourth years) and alternate-year (spawning in alternate summers). In both types, females often are able to fertilize the 2 successive broods with the sperm from a single insemination (multiple fertilizations). Intermoult (hard-shell) mating has also been observed in laboratory conditions (Waddy and Aiken 1990).

Consecutive spawning and multiple fertilizations enable large lobsters to spawn more frequently over the long term than their smaller counterparts. This combined with the logarithmic relationship between body size and numbers of eggs produced, means that large lobsters have a much greater relative fecundity. The advantages of a population that includes a good mix of sizes including very large sizes is well documented (DFO 2009). For lobsters the advantages include higher egg production and different hatching areas and times. This should result in less susceptibility to short term fluctuations in recruitment levels.

2.1.5 Natural mortality

Natural mortality (M) has been estimated for some nearshore lobster populations and is generally assumed to be between 10-15% for all fully recruited legal sized animals (Fogarty and Idoine 1988) and in most models it is assumed to be the same over time and for all size groups. However in reality this could vary greatly depending upon habitat, predator abundance, time of the year and lobster size.

A constant M is usually chosen using a life history criterion, such as longevity, growth rate and age at maturity. American lobsters have a relatively long life span and slow reproduction and are thus classified by biologists as k-selected with low natural mortality after the larval stage. The uncertainty of the natural mortality is in part due to the lack of an accurate ageing method.

2.2 Ecosystem interactions

2.2.1 Predation on lobsters

During the larval stage, lobsters are eaten by many plankton feeding fish and invertebrates. During the settling stages as the lobster moves from the plankton to the bottom to find shelter they are preyed upon by many small fish, such as cunners, sculpins and invertebrates like small crabs. During their first 3 to 4 years, lobsters remain in or near their chosen shelter to avoid predation from visual predators including many fish species, such as sculpin, cunners, skate, crabs and other opportunistic feeders (Lavalli and Lawton 1996). There is evidence that natural mortality varies inversely with body size with larger lobsters safer from all but the largest predators; however all lobsters are most vulnerable immediately following the moult when their shell is still soft. Animals that have been identified as predators on lobsters in some areas include sculpins, skates, cod, spiny dogfish, sea ravens, wolfish, Cancer crabs and striped bass. Mortality levels on the inshore lobster stocks have not been quantified. Anecdotal information indicates that seals are a predator on lobster; however there is no scientific data on the prevalence or level at which it may occur.

2.2.2 Food sources for lobsters

Lobsters are both active and opportunistic feeders. Lobsters are active predators of crabs, clams, mussels, scallop, various gastropods, fish, marine worms, sea urchins, starfish and small amounts of marine plants. They will also feed on an opportunistic basis on dead fish and other organisms (Carter and Steele 1982; Elner and Campbell 1987; Gendron, Fradette et al. 2001).

2.2.3 Species interactions and interactions with other fisheries

Other Crustaceans

Lobsters co-occur with other crustaceans of commercial value, most notably Jonah crab (Cancer borealis), rock crab (Cancer irroratus) and deep-sea red crab (Chaceon quinquedens). While Jonah and rock crab can co-occur in shallower waters and are caught either as a directed fishery or as a bycatch of lobster fisheries, red crab generally exist in greater water depths than commercial lobster distributions and rarely make up a significant portion of bycatch.

Rock and Jonah crab can be retained for bait (in specified LFAs) and must be recorded in the lobster log, though the level of recording appears to be low in some areas.

The commercial rock and Jonah crab fisheries use traps similar to the lobster fishery and have the potential for lobster bycatch. While the bycatch cannot be retained, there is the potential for some damage to lobsters, particularly during the moulting period.

Other fisheries

While other fisheries cannot legally land lobsters, there is potential interaction with bottom mobile gear. Observer data indicates their presence in the catch of scallop, trawl and gill nets set on the bottom. There is little quantitative information available as to the level of capture or survival of lobsters returned to the water by different gear types. Observer data from the inshore scallop fishery in Scallop Fishing Area (SFA) 29 showed that the number of lobsters caught was very small (<0.1%) compared to the number of lobsters caught by the directed trap fishery in LFA 34 (DFO. 2018/044). Of the lobsters caught, the majority were alive and uninjured. Levels of damage or mortality on the bottom are unknown.

Interaction with whales, turtles and seals

Right whales are present on the Scotian Shelf in summer and the mouth of the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin has been identified as summer feeding habitat. Other whale species present in coastal waters are humpback, pilot, various dolphin species, minke and fin whales. While there is potential for interaction between lobster gear and whales, the inshore lobster fishing seasons do not often overlap with times of known whale concentrations. However, little is known of whale migration routes between the summer and winter grounds.

Industry in some LFAs has adopted a set of protocols to further reduce the potential for interaction between whales and fishing gear.

There is also potential for interaction with sea turtles, though reported interactions between whales/turtles and lobster gear are rare.

Seals are known to eat lobster bait and can cause damage to traps.

2.2.4 Gear impacts

A DFO national science advisory process to examine the potential impacts of traps and other gears on marine habitats and communities was held in January 2010. A Science Advisory Report from the workshop is available (DFO 2010/003) and titled “Potential impacts of fishing gears (excluding mobile bottom-contacting gears) on marine habitats and communities.”

Report conclusions

The potential impact of traps on marine habitats is dependent on a variety of factors, including:

An assessment of the impact on marine habitats of lobster traps in particular has not been conducted, but numerous reviews of trap impacts have concluded that the potential for impact is small, though they agree that it could increase with density and frequency of the traps being hauled (Eno, Macdonald et al. 2001; Morgan and Chuenpagdee 2003; Chiarella, Stevenson et al. 2005).

The study by Eno et al. (1996) suggests that the direct contact of fishing gears with fauna may not be the primary cause of mortality and the frequency and intensity of physical contact is more likely to be important.

The trap footprint on the sea bottom is small and traps are weighted to restrict movement caused by currents. The area affected is thus limited primarily to the trap footprint area (< 0.62 m²) and the area of disturbance as the trap is hauled. Proper hauling results in minimal dragging of the trap along the bottom, though greater movement can occur especially in rough weather.

The type of bottom fished is varied (e.g., cobble, ledge, mud, sand, gravel) and includes some high energy areas with large natural sediment movements. The impact of traps on the bottom will vary depending on the bottom type where they are deployed and the spatial extent of deployment.

2.2.5 Gear loss and ghost fishing

Gear loss has not been quantified regularly but is believed to be low as gear is valuable and efforts are made to recover lost traps through grappling. Lost gear would remain intact for considerable periods of time unless disturbed by weather or mobile gear. However, all traps in every LFA are fitted with biodegradable panels, which will open after a period of time in order to mitigate ghost fishing.

2.2.6 Non retained bycatch

Pressure from the inshore lobster fishery in the Maritimes Region is not known to exert a direct impact upon ecological system structure or functioning (including specific prey or predator species) although no specific studies have been conducted. All non-approved species must be immediately returned to the water. Survival of returned bycatch has not been measured but is believed to be high for most invertebrates; however could be low for fish.

Bycatch species include: rock and Jonah crab; sea urchins; whelks; and various fish species, including cusk, cod and sculpins. A survey of bycatch in LFAs where data is available is reported during stock assessments. A broader catch monitoring initiative began in fall 2018, which will provide more robust bycatch estimates.

2.2.7 Environment interactions

Water temperature is a controlling factor in growth, reproduction, movements and distribution of lobsters. Temperature also affects lobster catchability (the likelihood that they will enter traps) (Drinkwater, et al. 2006). Wind and water currents influence larval distribution and movement and temperature controls larval duration.

The net effects of climate change on lobster populations are difficult to predict. Areas will be influenced both by local changes and changes in large scale ocean conditions, such as the near shore Nova Scotia Current and the Labrador Current along the shelf break. Cooling conditions could reduce larval survival, growth and increase the size at maturity. Warming conditions could increase larval survival, growth and decrease the size at maturity. Warming conditions could also result in changes in predator mix and the potential for increased disease.

2.3 Stock assessment

Lobster assessments are conducted periodically through the Regional Assessment Process (RAP) coordinated by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). The target frequency for full assessments for each LFA is every 5 years. The assessments are peer reviewed and information is made public through publications available online in the form of Stock Advisory Reports (SAR), Research Documents and meeting proceedings (Table 4).

Stock structure has not been fully described. The current hypothesis is that the lobster is a stock complex comprised of several sub-populations that are linked through larval drift and adult migration patterns. In 2011, a cluster analysis of historical landings from 1947 onward indicated that there were 5 groupings of LFAs in the inshore with similar patterns in landings: LFA 27, LFAs 28-32, LFA 33, LFA 34 and LFAs 35-38 (Tremblay et all 2011). For a period of time, stock assessments were completed according to these groupings, with sub-analyses completed for individual LFAs. In 2018, a framework assessment was held for LFAs 27-33. A recommendation from this later framework was that the LFAs be examined separately because each is managed separately and because several possess unique conservation measures that may affect trends in stock status indicators. Furthermore, assessing stocks independently was considered to be a more precautionary approach.

Table 4: List of stock assessments since 1996 (most recent in bold).
LFA Stock advisory report (SAR) / Stock status report (SSR) Research document


Anticipated in 2019



Anticipated in 2019



Anticipated in 2019







2.4 Precautionary approach

2.4.1 Policy requirements

In 2009, DFO adopted A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach (PA Policy) as a component of the Sustainable Fisheries Framework. The PA in fisheries management is, in general, about being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate and not using the absence of adequate scientific information as a reason to postpone or fail to take action to avoid serious harm to the resource. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of sustainable fisheries management. The primary components of the PA framework are stock status indicators and reference points; a harvest strategy, including removal references (the maximum acceptable removal rates for the stock); harvest control rules; and explicit consideration of uncertainty and risk.

2.4.2 Preliminary approach and data sources

There are currently no working population models for Canadian lobster with which to set model-based reference points. An indicator-based approach to setting reference points across all of the inshore LFAs has therefore been adopted.

In 2012, landings-based reference points were adopted for each of the LFAs (DFO 2012). Due to the input-based management of this fishery and the long-term consistency of management measures, landings were assumed a reasonable proxy for biomass, at least in the short term. At the time, landings were also the only indicator of lobster biomass with a significant time series.

Given the uncertainties and caveats associated with the use of landings, other primary and contextual indicators were added to the stock assessment framework for each LFA, based on available data sources. These other indicators could both change the perception of stock status and inform the type of management response to a stock should it enter the Cautious Zone.

In 2018, a framework assessment was completed for LFAs 27-33. The framework and subsequent stock assessment resulted in a new set of stock status indicators and reference points for these LFAs. The next framework assessment for LFAs 34 and 35-38 is scheduled for 2019 and in the meantime the preliminary indicators and reference points remain in effect.

2.4.3 Indicators and reference points: LFAs 27-33

Primary indicator

The primary stock status indicator for LFAs 27-33 is the commercial catch rate. The time series is made up of 2 data sources: the first is a voluntary log book, which began in the 1980s and continued until 2013 in some LFAs; and the second is the current, commercial log book, which is now mandatory and has been mandatory in some LFAs since the mid-2000s. The 2 data sources are treated as a single, continuous time series.

The combined catch rate data series from 1990 to 2016 was used to define the upper stock reference (USR) and limit reference point (LRP) for each LFA. This time period represents periods of both low and high productivity for lobster and it covers approximately 2 generations. The median of this time series is considered to be a proxy for biomass at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY). Consistent with guidance in the PA Policy, the USR and LRP are set at 80% and 40% of the BMSY proxy.

The metric used to compare the commercial catch rate to the USR and LRP is a 3-year running median. A running median was chosen over an average as the median dampens the impact of anomalous years, which may occur due to factors other than changes in abundance.

Table 5: Primary stock status indicator and reference points for LFAs 27-33 (kg / trap haul).
LFA BMSY proxy: Median of the commercial catch rate 1990-2016 USR: 80% of the BMSY proxy LRP: 40% of the BMSY proxy
27 0.34 0.27 0.14
28 0.31 0.25 0.12
29 0.28 0.22 0.11
30 0.7 0.56 0.28
31A 0.39 0.31 0.16
31B 0.40 0.32 0.16
32 0.36 0.29 0.14
33 0.35 0.28 0.14

Secondary indicators

There are 3 secondary stock status indicators for LFAs 27-33: landings (kg) and effort (numbers of trap hauls) from the commercial log books and catch rates of sub-legal (70 to <82.5 mm) and legal-sized (≥82.5 mm) lobsters from the recruitment trap survey (kg per trap haul).¹   Commercial landings are related to population abundance, as fishery controls are based on inputs (effort) rather than outputs (total allowable catches). Fishing effort can be a proxy for fishing pressure and is an important indicator of fishery performance. The recruitment trap survey provides the best information on abundance of undersized lobsters and it is the only data on abundance that is collected in a standardized manner.

Secondary indicators represent important time series trends that are tracked individually. No reference points are defined for these.

Contextual indicators

Contextual indicators describe biological processes that influence production, changes in the ecosystem and changes in the performance of the fishery. They include indices of berried female lobsters, indices of new recruits, size-based indices, idealized reproductive potential, biomass recruits, proportion of new recruits, proportion of mature lobsters and bottom temperature. Specific reference levels are not applied to contextual indicators.

The contextual indicators are included in full stock assessments. They are presented in a multivariate analysis, with a matrix plot showing trends over time.

Indicator of exploitation

A Continuous Change in Ratio (CCIR) method is used to estimate exploitation. Change in ratio methods provide estimates of population parameters based on the changes in observed proportions of components within the population, in this case lobsters just below the minimum legal size (a reference, non-exploited component) and new recruits to the fishery (an exploited component). The premise of this method is that the proportion of reference individuals within the population will increase with the cumulative removals from the exploitable component.

Data for the CCIR analysis is drawn from the recruitment trap survey from the period of 2000 to 2016 (with some variation among LFAs). Since this is a period of increased productivity, it has been assumed that the estimated maximum exploitation rate from the time period is likely below the rate that would have negative impacts on the lobster stocks or, in other words, below fishing at maximum sustainable yield. The removal reference (RR) for each LFA is defined as the 75th quantile of the posterior distribution of the maximum modeled CCIR exploitation rate.

Table 6: Removal references in the Healthy Zone (maximum rate of removals), LFAs 27-33.
LFA 75th quantile of the posterior distribution of the maximum estimated CCIR exploitation rate, 2000-2016
27 0.84
28 Not developed
29 0.94
30 0.77
31A 0.89
31B 0.82
32 0.84
33 0.81

2.4.4 Indicators and reference points: LFAs 34 and 35-38

Primary indicators

Landings (t) is the primary stock status indicator in LFA 34 and LFAs 35-38 (LFAs combined). For the landings indicator, the median of landings from the period of 1985 to 2009 was accepted as a proxy for BMSY. This time period represents a productive period for lobster, but it also includes years in which landings were substantially lower than they are currently. The USRs and LRPs are calculated as 80% and 40% of the BMSY proxy respectively. The metric for assessing where the stock is relative to the USR and LRP is the 3-year moving average of landings

Table 7: Landings-based indicator and reference points for LFAs 34 and 35-38 (t).
LFA BMSY proxy: median of landings 1985-2009 USR: 80% of BMSY proxy LRP: 40% of BMSY proxy
34 11,084 8,867 4,433
35-38 1,969 1,575 782

In each of the LFAs, other primary indicators are used to interpret changes in the landings indicator. Commercial catch rate (kg landed per trap haul) is a primary indicator based on commercial logbook data. In LFA 34, the USR is defined as 80% of the median catch rate for the reference period of 1998-99 to 2008-09. In LFAs 35-38, the USR is 50% of the median for the reference period 2005-06 and 2008-09. Fifty per cent was selected over 80% because the time series is shorter for these LFAs and it was a very productive period.

In LFA 34 a lobster-focused trawl surveys being developed out of DFO’s former groundfish individual transferable quota (ITQ) survey. A primary indicator in LFA 34 is the mean number of lobsters per standard tow from this survey. The USR is defined as 80% of the median in the reference period of 1998‑99 to 2008‑09. The metric used to compare the current value to the USR is a 3-year moving average of number of lobsters per tow. No LRP has been defined.

In LFAs 35-38, a primary indicator is the mean number of lobsters per tow from certain strata from DFO’s summer research vessel (RV) survey. The USR is defined as 80% of the median catch rate for the reference period of 1985 to 2009. The metric used to compare the current value to the USR is a 3-year moving average of the number of lobsters per tow.

Table 8: Other primary indicators and reference points for LFA 34.
Indicator Reference points
Commercial catch rate (kg landed/trap haul)
  • USR: 80% of the median for the reference period 1998-99 to 2008-09
  • (= 0.62 kg/trap haul)
  • Metric: 3-year moving average of the commercial CPUE
Mean number of lobsters per standard tow (1 km) from the lobster trawl survey*
  • USR: 80% of the median catch rate for the period of 1996-2009 (= 490 lobster per km²)
  • Metric: 3-year moving average of number of lobsters per tow

*Formerly the ITQ survey, which began transitioning to a lobster-focused survey in 2013.
**There will be some annual variability in the USR while the survey is being developed.

Table 9: Other primary indicators and reference points for LFAs 35-38.
Indicators Reference points
Commercial catch rate (kg landed/trap haul)
  • USR: 50% of the median for the reference period 2005-06 and 2008-09*
  • Metric: 3-year moving average of the commercial CPUE
Summer RV survey (mean number of lobsters per tow in strata 490-495)**
  • USR: 80% of the median catch rate for the period 1985-2009 (= 1.9 lobsters/tow)
  • Metric: 3-year moving average of number of lobsters per tow

Contextual indicators

Stock assessments for each LFA also report on a number of secondary indicators. Some of the secondary indicators are ecosystem related (e.g., water temperature, predator abundance) and others capture more detailed information about the composition of the lobster stocks (e.g., sub-legal abundance and reproductive status).

Indicator of exploitation

Indicators of exploitation and removal references have not yet been determined for LFA 34 or 35‑38.

2.5 Research plan

Part of DFO’s vision is to advance sustainable aquatic ecosystems while fostering economic prosperity across maritime sectors and fisheries. The ability to provide sound advice on stock status for the management of our natural resources is largely dependent on the collaborative science programs conducted by DFO, fishing associations and academia.

DFO Science collects and assimilates the pertinent biological and fisheries information to develop and implement scientific analysis for the provision of advice to directly support decision-making and policy program delivery. In order to accomplish these goals DFO-Science conducts population monitoring programs and scientific research to develop assessments of stock status, which are used to provide advice to management for supporting the sustainable development of the resource. Quality monitoring and research programs ensure that decisions are based on the best knowledge available.

Monitoring and research are important components for management of the lobster fishery, with a long history of research results being used as primary inputs into management decisions. This monitoring, assessment and research plan (Table 10) summarizes the priorities for investment in monitoring and research in the inshore lobster fisheries for the period of 2017 to 2022.

Table 10: Monitoring and research plan, 2017 to 2022.
Strategic objectives Themes Monitoring, assessment and research priorities (i.e.: strategic monitoring and research needs)
Maintain and improve the knowledge base for the regional lobster stocks.

Perform functions and activities critical to inform stock status.

Foster and maintain monitoring and research activities in collaboration with industry stakeholders and academia.

Collect biological and stock indicators with different long-term monitoring programs:

  • Conduct a multi-species fishery-independent survey (i.e.: trawl survey) in the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy (LFA 34 - 38).
  • Conduct a lobster focused fishery-independent survey (i.e.: trawl survey) in LFA 34 and surrounding areas.
  • In collaboration with stakeholders, collect at-sea sampling data onboard commercial vessels at regular intervals to capture the size composition of lobster caught during fishing as well as bycatch information (i.e. legal and sub-legal sizes and egg bearing females).
  • In collaboration with stakeholders, collect population structure and fisheries data by conducting a recruitment-index program with commercial harvesters using modified traps (LFA 27 -35).
Provision of peer reviewed science advice and scientific publications

Develop and improve techniques for assessing stock status

Investigate issues or address questions raised by clients.

  • Undertake regular stock status assessment and provision of science advice for fisheries managers.
  • Develop stock status indicators as part of framework assessments in LFA 27-33 (winter 2018) and LFA 34-38 (summer 2019).
  • Explore and/or improve methods to develop biological reference points, which are related to the productivity of lobster stocks
  • Respond to specific scientific questions related to the lobster population/stock related to fisheries management as needed, via scientific investigations and peer reviewed science advice.
Ensuring ongoing sustainability of the fishery Continue to improve the precautionary approach framework for the lobster fishery.
  • In collaboration with Resource Management work toward implementing the precautionary approach framework to lobster stocks
Research on population dynamics and impacts of climate changes Continue to improve on scientific knowledge (biological and physical) that can be applied to better assess the stocks.
  • Continue research activities to better understand lobster population dynamics and changing productivity regimes under a changing climate through collaborative research and under different funding programs.

3. Social, cultural and economic importance of the fishery

3.1 Overview

The lobster fishery² has been the backbone of the inshore commercial fishery in the Maritimes Region over the past 2 decades. In recent years, the fishery generated direct fishing employment for approximately 7,500 people and provided important economic benefits in coastal communities throughout the region, including Indigenous communities. In 2016, lobster was landed at more than 300 communities in the Maritimes Region, providing for a broad distribution of associated revenues and profits for licence holders and wages for crew.

With its long history in the region, inshore lobster represents a link for current fishing activity with the traditional social and economic life in rural Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. As an owner-operator fishery, lobster is an important contributor to the independence of the inshore fleet in Canada’s Atlantic fisheries. Inshore lobster is a key component of fisheries operations for the region’s communal commercial licence holders.

The inshore lobster fishery generates significant indirect economic benefits in the region through investment in inputs, such as vessel construction and maintenance, gear manufacture and maintenance, fuel and bait. The fishery generates significant induced economic benefits in the region as employment incomes and fishing business profits are spent and invested locally. Important economic benefits are also generated through the additional business activity that takes place post-landing, such as product handling and packing, transportation, processing, marketing and exporting. All of these activities generate additional profits and employment in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Lobster harvesting is predominantly an occupation held by men, although there are a number of female harvesters. According to 2016 Census information, the gender breakdown in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for people working in the fish harvesting sector³ (all species) was 87.6% male and 12.4% female. The gender breakdown in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the fish processing sector4 (all species) was 52.6% male and 47.4% female.

Lobster harvested by over 2,700 inshore lobster vessels in the 2015-16 season generated revenues of $876 million for commercial and communal commercial licence holders, a record for the region. The landings of inshore lobster in 2015-2016 also represented a regional record at 60,819 tonnes or just over 134 million pounds. Preliminary figures for the 2016-17 season suggest that landings and landed value were 2nd all-time highs for the region.

The Maritimes Region lobster fishery accounted for 61% of Canadian lobster landings in 2016 and was, therefore, an important supplier for Canadian exporters. Canadian exports of lobster reached a record $2.15 billion in 2016.

3.2 Lobster and the Atlantic fishery

In 2016, commercial fishery landed value for DFO Atlantic regions (Maritimes, Gulf, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador) totaled $3.0 billion. Maritimes Region accounted for 46% of this total and lobster accounted for 44% of the total landed value across all Atlantic regions. Within DFO Maritimes Region, lobster accounted for approximately 62% of the total landed value.

Figure 6 shows 2016 commercial landed value by DFO region and major species. Maritimes Region lobster landed value was approximately $833 million (similarly in 2017, data preliminary) and was the dominant value species in the region. Lobster was also the main value species in DFO Gulf Region.

Graphic illustrating the landed value by major species by DFO Atlantic region (2016)

Figure 6: Landed value by major species by DFO Atlantic region (2016).


Figure 6: This chart shows the landed value of major species by DFO Atlantic region.

  Maritimes Region Gulf Region Quebec Region Newfoundland & Labrador Region Atlantic Total Pacific Region Canada Total
Lobster $833,536 $369,033 $76,303 $36,593 $1,315,465   $1,315,465
Scallop $122,768 $1,085 $0 $3,528 $127,381    
Shrimp $79,063 $16,307 $48,889 $276,064 $420,323    
Snow crab $80,303 $134,966 $111,222 $274,011 $600,502    
Groundfish $96,191 $2,249 $18,038 $110,393 $226,871    
Other species $141,216 $28,731 $15,939 $88,933 $274,819    
TOTAL $1,353,077 $552,371 $270,391 $789,522 $2,965,361 $351,670 $3,317,031

3.3 Inshore lobster in DFO Maritimes Region

3.3.1 Regional landed weight and value5

Lobster landings (as measured as landed weight) in the inshore lobster fishery in Maritimes Region rose almost uniformly year after year over the 1995-96 through 2015-16 seasons, increasing from just under 15,000 tonnes in 1995-96 to a record 60,819 tonnes in 2015-16. Preliminary landings for 2016-17 of just under 53,000 tonnes show a decline from the previous season’s peak, but still similar to the high landings levels of 2013-14 and 2014-15, which were in excess of 51,000 tonnes. From a landings perspective, 2016-17 is expected to be 2nd all-time for Maritimes Region’s inshore lobster fishery though preliminary data for 2017-18 suggest it will be above 2016-17.

The landings increase during the 2008-09 through 2012-13 period coincided with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, which saw several years of lower-than-average prices due to increased supply, a weak market and a strong Canadian dollar. By 2014-15, the market improved and the Canadian dollar weakened against the US dollar, increasing average landed prices and revenues to lobster licence holders in alignment with the historically high landings levels.

Inshore lobster nominal landed value averaged about $350 million over the 15 year period through the 2012-13 season. In just 3 years following the 2012-13 season, inshore lobster landed value more than doubled, rising dramatically from $383 million to $876 million. Preliminary figures for the 2016-17 season suggest a landed value of around $833 million and 2nd all-time high for the region.

Figure 7 shows Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight and landed value by season from 1995-96 to 2016-17 (preliminary). See Appendix 3 for the annual figures.

Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight and landed value

Figure 7: Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight and landed value.


Figure 7: This chart shows Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight and landed value for the period 1996 to 2017, with the latest years’ data as preliminary.

Tonnes Maritimes (t) Maritimes
  Maritimes Region Inshore Landed Weight (t) Maritimes Region Inshore Landed Value ($M)
1996-97 16,215 $186.6
1997-98 18,400 $209.6
1998-99 19,736 $260.7
1999-00 20,554 $288.2
2000-01 24,369 $346.1
2001-02 27,549 $334.8
2002-03 26,020 $390.6
2003-04 26,254 $364.8
2004-05 27,231 $380.4
2005-06 28,523 $387.5
2006-07 28,888 $364.7
2007-08 31,518 $385.7
2008-09 32,274 $322.3
2009-10 35,056 $317.4
2010-11 37,419 $375.4
2011-12 43,714 $420.0
2012-13 44,029 $382.6
2013-14 51,408 $565.0
2014-15p 51,965 $660.1
2015-16p 60,819 $876.0
2016-17p 52,852 $833.0

3.3.2 Landed weight and value by LFA

In Maritimes Region, inshore lobster landings (i.e. landed weight) vary by LFA based on factors, such as the relative resource abundance, the length of the fishing season and the number of licences. LFA 34 has the greatest number of inshore licences (979) and relatively high resource abundance, generating the highest overall lobster landings in the region.

Figure 8 shows the relative landings by LFA in Maritimes Region6, as well as the landings trends within each LFA from the 2007-08 season through to the 2016-17 season (data is preliminary).

Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight by LFA

Figure 8: Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight by LFA.


Figure 8 : Ce graphique montre les prises débarquées relatives par ZPH dans la région des Maritimes, ainsi que les tendances à cet égard dans chaque ZPH, de 2007-2008 à 2016-2017 (données préliminaires).

  LFA 27 LFA 29 LFA 30 LFA 31A LFA 31B LFA 32 LFA 33 LFA 34 LFA 35 LFA 36 LFA 38 LFA 38b
1996-97 1,290 40 80 50 98 247 1,783 10,645 738 681 551 0
1997-98 1,263 52 70 72 128 309 2,103 12,065 837 788 701 0
1998-99 1,332 50 70 78 139 316 2,129 13,062 920 826 809 0
1999-00 1,397 54 54 85 212 448 2,241 13,444 910 878 826 0
2000-01 1,716 66 98 102 204 433 2,460 16,190 1,074 1,032 989 0
2001-02 1,292 57 78 103 210 358 2,764 19,043 1,218 1,261 1,145 12
2002-03 1,540 125 73 152 279 389 2,320 17,613 1,234 1,155 1,073 54
2003-04 1,735 190 84 213 305 289 1,955 17,801 1,337 1,169 1,133 35
2004-05 1,919 402 112 426 498 403 2,519 17,250 1,172 1,143 1,363 15
2005-06 1,848 658 187 672 825 602 2,555 17,009 1,234 1,295 1,595 32
2006-07 1,914 792 216 827 1,061 631 3,033 16,583 1,191 1,138 1,413 80
2007-08 2,711 1,076 413 962 1,031 704 2,598 17,143 1,488 1,477 1,855 47
2008-09 2,072 1,088 452 956 1,270 829 3,401 17,262 1,617 1,596 1,638 79
2009-10 2,424 914 371 911 1,001 657 3,377 19,749 1,898 1,594 2,035 113
2010-11 2,542 727 383 757 925 758 3,909 20,401 2,546 1,916 2,348 200
2011-12 2,590 729 416 807 1,080 922 5,126 23,295 3,247 2,488 2,744 259
2012-13 3,588 607 461 671 740 862 5,345 22,770 3,168 2,739 2,682 384
2013-14 3,670 768 455 806 1,148 1,239 5,839 25,427 3,941 3,325 4,196 578
2014-15p 3,649 722 424 754 1,036 1,087 7,071 24,148 3,723 3,524 5,045 766
2015-16p 3,716 791 417 724 1,072 1,289 10,024 29,131 3,482 3,681 5,711 774
2016-17p 5,250 874 580 841 1,214 1,238 8,020 22,684 3,072 3,382 4,915 800
2017-18p 5,861 1,160 633 916 1,182 1,120 8,431 23,958 3,632 4,072 4,438 837

Figure 9 shows the average landed weight per licence by LFA, with the area licence count converted to Category A equivalent (i.e., partnership/stacked licences at 0.75, Category B licences at 0.30). The LFAs with the highest 2016-17 landings per licence were LFA 38, LFA 35 and LFA 30.

Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region inshore lobster average landed weight per licence

Figure 9: Maritimes Region inshore lobster average landed weight per licence.


Figure 9: This chart shows the average landed weight per licence by LFA, with the area licence count converted to Category A equivalent (i.e., partnership/stacked licences at 0.75, Category B licences at 0.30). The LFAs with the highest 2016-17 landings per licence were LFA 38, LFA 35 and LFA 30.

  LFA 27 LFA 29 LFA 30 LFA 31A LFA 31B LFA 32 LFA 33 LFA 34 LFA 35 LFA 36 LFA 38
Licence Count (Category A equivalent) 460.7 59.0 20.0 67.2 70.3 152.7 617.9 955.0 91.9 168.8 122.8
Landed Weight (tonnes, 2016-17) 5,250.0 874.0 580.0 841.0 1,214.0 1,238.0 8,020.0 22,684.0 3,072.0 3,382.0 5,715.0
Average Landings per Category A Licence (tonnes, 2016-17) 11.4 14.8 28.9 12.5 17.3 8.0 13.0 23.8 33.4 20.0 46.5
Relative to 38 24.5% 31.8% 62.1% 26.9% 37.1% 17.2% 27.9% 51.0% 71.8% 43.1% 100.0%

Figure 10 shows inshore lobster landed value by LFA from the 2007-08 season through 2016-17 (data is preliminary).

Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed value by LFA

Figure 10: Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed value by LFA.


Figure 10: This chart shows inshore lobster landed value by LFA from the 2007-08 season through 2016-17 (data is preliminary).

  LFA 27 LFA 29 LFA 30 LFA 31A LFA 31B LFA 32 LFA 33 LFA 34 LFA 35 LFA 36 LFA 38 LFA 38B
2007-08 $29,199 $12,315 $4,875 $10,632 $11,366 $7,771 $33,665 $222,078 $16,811 $15,918 $20,448 $506
2008-09 $18,988 $9,816 $4,483 $8,358 $11,060 $7,475 $33,513 $182,187 $15,999 $14,460 $15,363 $486
2009-10 $21,854 $7,947 $3,548 $7,933 $8,531 $5,617 $30,877 $179,557 $18,041 $14,225 $18,122 $1,037
2010-11 $27,574 $7,570 $4,331 $7,906 $9,491 $7,761 $40,018 $201,157 $26,388 $18,925 $22,386 $1,804
2011-12 $27,980 $8,065 $4,519 $8,895 $11,907 $10,209 $48,826 $219,602 $29,976 $22,130 $25,105 $2,627
2012-13 $30,590 $5,828 $3,973 $6,292 $7,639 $8,499 $48,041 $197,505 $25,674 $22,264 $22,797 $3,410
2013-14 $35,723 $7,616 $4,433 $7,962 $11,924 $13,364 $69,876 $295,854 $37,592 $31,420 $42,938 $6,119
2014-15 $48,357 $10,221 $5,596 $10,522 $15,123 $15,988 $94,745 $307,543 $42,851 $40,250 $59,378 $9,296
2015-16p $58,266 $11,607 $6,699 $10,703 $15,946 $19,315 $149,419 $419,669 $48,000 $53,158 $82,031 $10,332
2016-17p $84,303 $14,436 $9,289 $13,945 $21,467 $21,929 $129,000 $356,000 $45,791 $49,854 $74,750 $12,134

3.3.3 Lobster landings by jurisdiction

Figure 11 shows how the landings of inshore lobster in Maritimes Region during the year relate to landings in other Canadian and American management jurisdictions (2016 data). Figure 12 shows the % share of Maritimes Region inshore lobster landings relative to the total supply.

While total supply tends to be low from January through April, Maritimes Region lands the majority, between 72% and 79%, depending on the month. Some portion of sales made early in the year tend to come from lobster caught at the end of the previous year. Although landings in Maritimes Region increase in May, the share of total supply declined to 35% in 2016 and declined further to 24% in June and 8% in July. Supply from Maritimes Region in 2015 was extremely low (1-2%) in August and September via the relatively small LFA 38b fishery and the sale of lobster from harvesters’ inventory.

In October, with LFA 35 opening and fishing activity in other jurisdictions, such as Gulf Region, winding down, the Maritimes Region share increases (to 13% in October 2016). LFAs 36 and 38 open mid-November and LFAs 33 and 34 open at the end of November, bringing the Maritimes Region share for November 2016 to 44%. For December 2016, Maritimes Region accounted for 83% of lobster landings (sales), with some portion of the December catch held for sale into January of the next year.

Graphic illustrating the North American landings of inshore lobster by jurisdiction, 2016

Figure 11: North American landings of inshore lobster by jurisdiction, 2016.


Figure 11: This chart shows how the landings of inshore lobster in Maritimes Region during the year relate to landings in other Canadian and American management jurisdictions (2016 data).

2016 Month Landings (Sales) (t)                 Maritimes Region % of Total North American Lobster Landings (Sales) (2016)  
  Maritimes Region Gulf Region Newfoundland & Labrador Region Quebec Region Canada Total Maine Other US Maine as % of US Total US Total Canada + US Total LFA 41 Portion
Jan 5,595 0 0 0 5,595 1,176 461 71.8% 1,637 7,232 77.4% 69
Feb 3,032 0 0 0 3,032 490 302 61.9% 793 3,825 79.3% 78
Mar 2,614 0 0 0 2,614 442 246 64.3% 688 3,302 79.2% 97
Avr 4,380 0 455 240 5,075 791 231 77.4% 1,022 6,097 71.8% 105
May 9,784 11,663 1,676 2,615 25,739 1,482 419 77.9% 1,901 27,639 35.4% 121
June 4,894 9,000 645 1,801 16,340 3,455 933 78.7% 4,388 20,727 23.6% 191
July 1,279 155 77 522 2,032 11,384 1,779 86.5% 13,162 15,195 8.4% 108
Aug 158 3,367 0 5 3,530 11,363 2,018 84.9% 13,382 16,911 0.9%  
Sept 240 2,756 0 0 2,996 9,743 1,602 85.9% 11,344 14,340 1.7%  
Oct 1,856 539 0 0 2,395 10,281 1,794 85.1% 12,075 14,470 12.8% 19
Nov 6,826 0 0 0 6,826 7,085 1,497 82.6% 8,582 15,408 44.3% 45
Dec 16,117 0 0 0 16,117 2,425 802 75.2% 3,227 19,344 83.3% 28
2016 Totals 56,775 27,480 2,853 5,182 92,290 60,116 12,084 83.3% 72,200 164,490 34.5% 789
2015 Totals 55,662 27,633 2,732 5,900 91,927 55,521 11,028 83.4% 66,549 158,476 35,1%  
2014 Totals 57,336 28,360 2,138 5,353 93,187 56,412 10,706 84.0% 67,119 160,306 35.8%  
2013 Totals 44,830 26,685 2,200 4,286 78,002 57,798 10,134 85.1% 67,932 145,933 30.7%  
2006 Totals 31,091 17,279 2,644 3,241 54,255 32,962 8,590 79.3% 41,551 95,807 32.5%  
Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region monthly lobster landings (sales) as share of North American total inshore lobster landings, 2016

Figure 12: Maritimes Region monthly lobster landings (sales) as share of North American total inshore lobster landings, 2016.


Figure 12: This chart shows the percentage share of Maritimes Region inshore lobster landings relative to the total supply.

2016 Month Landings (Sales) (t)                 Maritimes Region % of Total North American Lobster Landings (Sales) (2016)  
  Maritimes Region Gulf Region Newfoundland & Labrador Region Quebec Region Canada Total Maine Other US Maine as % of US Total US Total Canada + US Total LFA 41 Portion
Jan 5,595 0 0 0 5,595 1,176 461 71.8% 1,637 7,232 77.4% 69
Feb 3,032 0 0 0 3,032 490 302 61.9% 793 3,825 79.3% 78
Mar 2,614 0 0 0 2,614 442 246 64.3% 688 3,302 79.2% 97
Apr 4,380 0 455 240 5,075 791 231 77.4% 1,022 6,097 71.8% 105
May 9,784 11,663 1,676 2,615 25,739 1,482 419 77.9% 1,901 27,639 35.4% 121
June 4,894 9,000 645 1,801 16,340 3,455 933 78.7% 4,388 20,727 23.6% 119
July 1,279 155 77 522 2,032 11,384 1,779 86.5% 13,162 15,195 8.4% 108
Aug 158 3,367 0 5 3,530 11,363 2,018 84.9% 13,382 16,911 0.9%  
Sept 240 2,756 0 0 2,996 9,743 1,602 85.9% 11,344 14,340 1.7%  
Oct 1,856 539 0 0 2,395 10,281 1,794 85.1% 12,075 14,470 12.8% 19
Nov 6,826 0 0 0 6,826 7,085 1,497 82.6% 8,582 15,408 44.3% 45
Dec 16,117 0 0 0 16,117 2,425 802 75.2% 3,227 19,344 83.3% 28
2016 Totals 56,775 27,480 2,853 5,182 92,290 60,116 12,084 83.3% 72,200 164,490 34.5% 789

3.3.4 Average price

The average nominal inshore price for lobster in the Maritimes Region has fluctuated greatly over the period 1988 through 2017 (preliminary), reaching a low of just below $3.00 per pound in 1990 before rising to $6.62 in 2003. As lobster is considered a luxury food item, its price is relatively high among fish and seafood products, with this price appearing to be sensitive to macro-economic conditions and related changes to income levels.

Following the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, coupled with an increased supply of lobster and a stronger Canadian dollar, the average price dropped to a low of $4.16 in 2012 before rising again to an all-time high of $7.43 in 2017. The nominal price history is represented by the blue line in Figure 13.

Adjusting for inflation, the average price at the wharf peaked in 1999 at $8.61 per pound and averaged $6.61 over the 1988 to 2017 period. While not a record, the 2017 average price was the highest in 12 years and represented a significant turnaround from the lows in the wake of the global financial crisis. The inflation-adjusted price is represented by the red line in Figure 13.

Adjusting the constant dollar average inshore lobster price (red line) to factor out the currency exchange rate with the US dollar can provide a more standardized look at the long-term average price relative to the market (green line in Figure 13).

Graphic illustrating the Maritimes Region average inshore lobster price, 1988 to 2017p

Figure 13: Maritimes Region average inshore lobster price, 1988 to 2017p.


Figure 13: This chart shows Maritimes Region average inshore lobster price for the period 1988 to 2017, with the latest years’ data as preliminary.

Scroll down for chart data; scroll over for price v gdp  
AND MarReg Adjusted Price vs FOB NE 1 1/4 lb market px  
  Nominal C$ Constant 2017 C$ Constant 2017 $ Adjusted US$
1988 $3.99 $7.30 $5.93
1989 $3.52 $6.14 $5.18
1990 $2.93 $4.87 $4.17
1991 $3.09 $4.86 $4.25
1992 $4.24 $6.58 $5.74
1993 $4.19 $6.38 $4.94
1994 $4.40 $6.69 $4.90
1995 $5.19 $7.73 $5.63
1996 $5.30 $7.77 $5.70
1997 $5.10 $7.36 $5.32
1998 $5.75 $8.21 $5.54
1999 $6.20 $8.70 $5.86
2000 $5.99 $8.18 $5.51
2001 $5.79 $7.73 $4.99
2002 $6.49 $8.47 $5.39
2003 $6.62 $8.40 $5.99
2004 $6.17 $7.68 $5.90
2005 $6.51 $7.94 $6.55
2006 $5.49 $6.57 $5.79
2007 $6.12 $7.16 $6.66
2008 $4.95 $5.65 $6.03
2009 $4.54 $5.17 $4.53
2010 $4.22 $4.72 $4.58
2011 $4.17 $4.53 $4.58
2012 $4.16 $4.45 $4.46
2013 $4.59 $4.87 $4.73
2014 $5.05 $5.26 $4.76
2015 $6.46 $6.66 $5.21
2016p $6.60 $6.78 $5.12
2017p $7.32 $7.32 $5.63
  2017 Annual Average  
Year CPI Convert to 2017 MR Lobster Price Exchange Rate Adj to USD
1988 71.20 1.8315 $7.30 $0.813 $5.93
1989 74.80 1.7433 $6.14 $0.845 $5.18
1990 78.40 1.6633 $4.87 $0.857 $4.17
1991 82.80 1.5749 $4.86 $0.873 $4.25
1992 84.00 1.5524 $6.58 $0.872 $5.74
1993 85.60 1.5234 $6.38 $0.775 $4.94
1994 85.70 1.5216 $6.69 $0.732 $4.90
1995 87.60 1.4886 $7.73 $0.729 $5.63
1996 88.90 1.4668 $7.77 $0.733 $5.70
1997 90.40 1.4425 $7.36 $0.722 $5.32
1998 91.30 1.4283 $8.21 $0.674 $5.54
1999 92.90 1.4037 $8.70 $0.673 $5.86
2000 95.40 1.3669 $8.18 $0.673 $5.51
2001 97.80 1.3333 $7.73 $0.646 $4.99
2002 100.00 1.3040 $8.47 $0.637 $5.39
2003 102.80 1.2685 $8.40 $0.714 $5.99
2004 104.70 1.2455 $7.68 $0.768 $5.90
2005 107.00 1.2187 $7.94 $0.825 $6.55
2006 109.10 1.1952 $6.57 $0.882 $5.79
2007 111.50 1.1695 $7.16 $0.930 $6.66
2008 114.09 1.1429 $5.65 $1.066 $6.03
2009 114.43 1.1395 $5.17 $0.876 $4.53
2010 116.46 1.1197 $4.72 $0.971 $4.58
2011 119.90 1.0876 $4.53 $1.011 $4.58
2012 121.7 1.0715 $4.45 $1.000 $4.46
2013 122.8 1.0619 $4.87 $0.971 $4.73
2014 125.2 1.0415 $5.26 $0.905 $4.76
2015 126.6 1.0300 $6.66 $0.782 $5.21
2016p 127.0 1.0268 $6.78 $0.755 $5.12
2017p 130.4 1.0000 $7.32 $0.770 $5.63

Over the 1988 to 2017 period, this inflation- and-exchange-rate-adjusted price averaged $5.27 per pound, reaching a peak in 2007 at $6.59. The lowest year in the time series was 1990 with an average price of $4.13. The price fluctuated while increasing to $5.79 in 1999 and dropping to $4.93 in 2001, potentially affected by the economic declines from the end of the dot-com bubble as well as the turmoil and uncertainty experienced after the 9/11 attacks. Prices rose again during the asset bubble years of the mid-2000s, reaching a peak of $6.59 in 2007 and declined precipitously after 2008. From 2009 to 2014, the adjusted price averaged about $4.50 per pound, then increased to over $5.00 again in 2015 and rose to $5.72 in 2017.

3.4 Harvesting employment

The inshore lobster fishery is the main driver of commercial fishery harvesting employment in Maritimes Region, employing an average of 7,500 people annually over the 2014 to 2018 period, which represents 62% of the average annual number of registered commercial fish harvesters in the region.

Lobster harvesting employment varies by LFA and relates mainly to the number of licences in an LFA, but also to vessel size, the distance from shore and time of year that fishing occurs and the number of partnerships and stacked licences in the LFA.

Figure 14 shows the average annual employment by LFA in Maritimes Region for the period 2014 through 2018. LFA 27 figures do not include Gulf Region based employment.

Graphic illustrating Lobster harvesting employment by LFA (annual average, 2014-2018)

Figure 14: Lobster harvesting employment by LFA (annual average, 2014-2018).


Figure 14: This chart shows the average annual employment by LFA in Maritimes Region for the period 2014 through 2018. LFA 27 figures do not include Gulf Region based employment.

5 year averages
MarRegion 7441.304
LFA 27 1269.976
LFA 28 24.85683
LFA 29 185.2317
LFA 30 65.24366
LFA 31A 197.4195
LFA 31B 198.1777
LFA 32 341.2264
LFA 33 1297.162
LFA 34 2815.766
LFA 35 290.1382
LFA 36 483.482
LFA 38 331.8131

Tables 11 and 12 show the average crew complement by year by LFA, as well as the estimated harvesting employment by year by LFA in Maritimes Region. The crew complement figures are averages of crew reports by inshore lobster licence holders. The harvesting employment figures use these average crew complement figures, multiplied by the number of active enterprises in the LFA (and assuming 2 people on board the vessel for Category B licences).

Harvesting employment ranged from 7,163 in 2014 to a high of 7,835 in 2017, then declined slightly to 7,737 in 2018. The average regional inshore lobster harvesting employment for the 2014 to 2018 period was exactly 7,500 people (vessel captains and crew).

Table 11: Average vessel complement by LFA by year, 2014-2018.
LFA 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Average
27 2.53 2.60 2.77 2.89 3.02 2.76
28 1.93 1.95 1.51 1.90 2.00 1.86
29 3.29 3.05 2.79 3.09 3.11 3.07
30 3.23 3.20 3.23 3.14 3.51 3.26
31A 2.82 2.90 2.92 3.04 3.02 2.94
31B 2.81 2.77 2.82 2.86 2.86 2.82
32 2.11 2.18 2.20 2.31 2.29 2.22
33 2.11 2.23 2.15 2.29 2.26 2.21
34 2.99 3.07 2.93 3.13 3.03 3.03
35 2.77 3.08 3.28 3.33 3.26 3.14
36 2.76 2.88 3.04 3.04 3.31 3.00
38 2.93 3.04 2.71 3.27 3.01 2.99
Table 12: Harvesting employment by LFA by year, 2014-2018
LFA 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Average
27 1,143 1,186 1,262 1,357 1,402 1,270
28 25 25 21 25 28 25
29 199 187 169 186 184 185
30 65 64 65 63 70 65
31A 194 197 195 208 193 197
31B 199 196 199 200 197 198
32 324 336 338 356 351 341
33 1,253 1,316 1,269 1,349 1,299 1,297
34 2,761 2,841 2,729 2,915 2,832 2,816
35 255 290 301 307 298 290
36 429 460 491 494 544 483
38 315 330 300 375 339 332
Maritimes Region 7,163 7,429 7,339 7,835 7,737 7,500

3.5 Dependency on lobster

In the context of the analysis in this section of the report, LFA dependency refers to the total lobster landed value by lobster licence holders within an LFA relative to the total commercial landed value by the same group. It is generally high across all LFAs in Maritimes Region, with the average for the region as a whole of 90%. Licence dependency for lobster licence holders is an average of the dependency on lobster for each licence holder in the LFA. The average licence dependency for lobster licence holders in the region is 94%.

In LFA 27, for example, lobster represents 78% of the total commercial fishery landed value for lobster licence holders in the area, while the average dependency on lobster for lobster licence holders in the LFA is 92%. This suggests that there was a relatively small subset of licence holders with significant landed value from other species but that most lobster licence holders are highly dependent on lobster.

LFA 31B has the highest dependency on lobster in terms of both LFA total landings and average licence holder dependency. LFA 29 had the biggest gap between LFA dependency and average licence dependency.

Figure 15 shows dependency information by Maritimes Region LFA with both LFA dependency (lobster as a share of total landed value by LFA lobster licence holders) and average lobster licence dependency (the LFA average % dependency by lobster licence holders on lobster).

Graphic illustrating the dependency on lobster for LFA and for lobster licence holders by LFA (2016)

Figure 15: Dependency on lobster for LFA and for lobster licence holders by LFA (2016).


Figure 15: This chart shows dependency information by Maritimes Region LFA with both LFA dependency (lobster as a share of total landed value by LFA lobster licence holders) and average lobster licence dependency (the LFA average % dependency by lobster licence holders on lobster).

  Overall LFA Dependency % Avg Licence Dependency %
LFA 27 78 92
LFA 29 70 96
LFA 30 71 88
LFA 31A 88 94
LFA 31B 99 99
LFA 32 91 94
LFA 33 90 94
LFA 34 94 97
LFA 35 89 91
LFA 36 89 91
LFA 38 93 94
Maritimes ave% 90 94

County dependency examines the degree to which lobster contributes to total commercial fishery landed values by county in Maritimes Region. At the county level, the landed value of the commercial fishery varies by county, as does the relative importance of lobster. In 2016, counties with the highest total landed value are Shelburne County, NS, with $302 million of which lobster accounted for 70%. Yarmouth County, NS, had $227 million in commercial fishery landed value of which lobster was 71%. Charlotte County, NB, had $155 million in total landed value with lobster accounting for 82%.

In Nova Scotia, counties east of Shelburne County tended to have a lower contribution from lobster with other key fisheries making up the balance, including snow crab, shrimp, clam, groundfish, elver, etc.,.

Victoria County, NS, which straddles DFO Maritimes and Gulf regions, had 89% of its commercial fisheries landed value from lobster. See Figure 16 for more information.

Graphic illustrating the lobster dependency by county in DFO Maritimes Region (2016)

Figure 16: Lobster dependency by county in DFO Maritimes Region (2016).


Figure 16: This chart shows lobster dependency information by county in Maritimes Region.

  Lobster Landed Value Other Species Landed Value Total Landed Value % Lobster
Charlotte $127,947,962 $27,391,479 $155,339,441 82.4%
Saint John $13,236,827 $4,326,858 $17,563,685 75.4%
Albert $6,381,949 $1,722,882 $8,104,831 78.7%
Cumberland $5,732,735 $1,427,213 $7,159,948 80.1%
Kings (NS) $3,682,344 $725,386 $4,407,730 83.5%
Annapolis $8,071,189 $2,801,015 $10,872,204 74.2%
Digby $100,473,030 $38,965,770 $139,438,800 72.1%
Yarmouth $160,155,304 $67,126,629 $227,281,933 70.5%
Shelburne $212,013,357 $89,574,767 $301,588,124 70.3%
Queens $19,113,896 $13,597,150 $32,711,046 58.4%
Lunenburg $26,886,011 $36,383,836 $63,269,847 42.5%
Halifax $32,011,285 $38,020,420 $70,031,705 45.7%
Guysborough $28,514,524 $100,092,362 $128,606,886 22.2%
Richmond $15,770,267 $33,624,033 $49,394,300 31.9%
Cape Breton $39,581,417 $81,853,963 $121,435,380 32.6%
Victoria $20,685,600 $2,627,012 $23,312,612 88.7%
Total $820,257,697 $540,260,775 $1,360,518,472 60.3%
Victoria (Maritimes) $18,178,008 $2,627,012 $20,805,020 87.4%
Victoria (Gulf) $2,507,592 $0 $2,507,592 100.0%

3.6 International trade of lobster

3.6.1 Imports

Canadian exporters of frozen/processed lobster source much of their product from domestic lobster fishery landings, but also from imports of lobster from the US. From 2012 to 2016, Canada’s imports of US lobster averaged just over 30,500 tonnes and reached a record nominal value of $433 million in 2016. See Figure 17 for more information.

The large rise in the import weight of lobster from the US after 2008 coincided with the dramatic increase in landings during these years, particularly in Maine where landed weight nearly doubled from 31,690 tonnes in 2008 to 59,854 tonnes in 2016.

Graphic illustrating the value of Canadian lobster imports from US (2000 to 2016)

Figure 17: Value of Canadian lobster imports from US (2000 to 2016).


Figure 17: This chart shows the value of Canadian lobster imports from the US for the period 2000 to 2016.

  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Canada Import Weight of Lobster from US 17,2
Canada Import Value of Lobster from US $196,

3.6.2 Exports

The value of Canada’s lobster exports reached a record $2.15 billion in 2016, which was 2.7 times the modern era lows of 2009 when total lobster exports were valued at $803 million. In the early 2000s, the split for export value between live lobster and frozen/processed was approximately 50:50. By 2016, the frozen/processed product forms accounted for 61% of Canadian lobster export value, with live lobster making up 39%. In 2016, the US accounted for 71.4% of Canada’s lobster export value, with Asia accounting for 19.9% and the European Union 9.0%.

Generally, the lobster landed by the inshore fleet in Maritimes Region is destined for the live lobster market.

3.6.3 Exports of frozen/processed lobster

Canadian exports of frozen/processed lobster reached a record level of $1.31 billion in 2016, triple the 2009 modern era low of $425 million in 2009. Live lobster export value peaked in 2015 at $855 million and declined slightly to $838 million in 2016, which was still 2.4 times the 2010 low of $346 million. See Figure 18 for more information.

Graphic illustrating the value of Canadian lobster exports (2000 to 2016)

Figure 18: Value of Canadian lobster exports (2000 to 2016).


Figure 18: This chart shows the value of Canadian lobster exports for the period 2000 to 2016.

  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Live $418,

The US is the main market for Canadian frozen/processed lobster and reached a record of $1.03 billion in 2016. Export value to Asian and European markets also reached record levels in 2016 at $153 million and $124 million, respectively.

Graphic illustrating the value of Canadian frozen/processed lobster exports (2000 to 2016)

Figure 19: Value of Canadian frozen/processed lobster exports (2000 to 2016).


Figure 19: This chart shows the value of Canadian frozen/processed lobster exports for the period 2000 to 2016.

  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
US $426,
Asia $12,
Europe $38,
Other Countries $226,
Total $477,
                                  US% of total non-Live

During the 2000 to 2016 period, the US averaged about 85% of the market for Canadian frozen/processed lobster, with this figure declining to 78% in 2016. See Figure 19 for more information.

3.6.4 Exports of live lobster

For live lobster, the US was also the main market with a peak export value of $552 million in 2015 before declining to $506 million in 2016. Asian markets accounted for a record $256 million in 2016, the first time that Asia reached half of the value of the US market for Canadian live lobster exports. Europe reached historic highs with $76 million and $72 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The US share of Canadian live lobster export value declined from a peak of 82% in 2001 to a low of just over 60% in 2016. Asian markets represented less than 10% of Canada’s live lobster market through 2009 before rising to just over 30% in 2016. Europe accounted for about 9% of Canada’s live lobster export market in 2016, down from a time series high of about 16% in 2008.

China and Hong Kong have accounted for a major portion of the increase in the Asian market for Canadian live lobster, rising from about $10 million in 2009 to a record $167 million in 2016. Canadian live lobster exports to South Korea rose from around $12 million in 2012 to a record $43 million in 2016. Of Canada’s live lobster exports to Asia in 2016, China and Hong Kong accounted for 65% and South Korea accounted for 18%. See Figure 20 for more information.

Graphic illustrating the value of Canadian live lobster exports (2000 to 2016)

Figure 20: Value of Canadian live lobster exports (2000 to 2016).


Figure 20: This chart shows the value of Canadian live lobster exports for the period 2000 to 2016.

  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
US $337,
Asia $27,
Europe $53,
Other Countries $758,

4. Management issues

4.1 Tag replacement policy

All lobster licence holders are subject to a trap limit and are issued a yearly set of consecutively and uniquely numbered tags to attach to their traps, which match the trap limit. Compliance with the trap limit is monitored through verification of validly tagged traps. When traps are lost, damaged, destroyed or need to be replaced, the licence holder must obtain a replacement tag. Tag replacement procedures should ensure that requests are formal and accurately track the number of replaced tags each year. They should be administratively efficient, provide licence holders with reasonable access and ensure that records are maintained in a manner that facilitates compliance. Various approaches are in place throughout the region and licence holders should contact a local DFO office  or industry representative for the specifics in their respective LFAs.

4.2 Residency requirements (LFA 33)

Within LFA 33, the redistribution of licences and effort, in some cases to take advantage of increased catch rates, has been a source of concern. A policy was developed through the advisory process in 2006 and updated in 2010 intended to minimize the negative impacts of this redistribution. As well, a policy was developed to ensure that the approval of a substitute operator was compliant policy. The policies are as follows:

  1. In LFA 33 residency requirements apply; applicants must have resided in Lunenberg or Queens Counties, the portion of Shelburne County east of the Barrington River or the portion of Halifax County west of the western edge of Cole Harbour. LFA 33 residency requirements may not apply to requests for the issuance of a replacement licence to the licence holder’s son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter, father or mother.
  1. In LFA 33 substitute operators must be residents of Lunenburg or Queens Counties, the portion of Shelburne County east of the Barrington River or the portion of Halifax County west of the western edge of Cole Harbour or a resident of the same port cluster as the licence holder.

These policies do not apply to communal commercial licences.

4.3 Gear loss

Traps lost at sea create a risk of ghost fishing. To reduce this risk, all lobster traps must be fitted with biodegradable panels. In 2018, the department began systematically to collect data on lost fishing gear across all fisheries. Currently, lobster licence holders in all LFAs are required to report lost gear to the department, including lost traps, rope and buoys.

4.4 Gear conflicts

The potential for gear conflict is possible within all LFAs. Historically, this fleet has maintained good communication with other fisheries to alleviate any problems. Regulations help to address conflict by defining properly marked gear and spacing requirements. Section 37(1) of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations , with respect to gear spacing, states that the master of a vessel with mobile gear shall maintain a distance of at least 1/2 nautical mile between his vessel, including any mobile gear attached thereto and any previously set fishing gear.

The combination of applying existing regulations pertaining to distances between mobile and previously set fixed gear, gear marking, the promotion of enhanced communication and conflict resolution between fleets will continue as the main approach to resolve potential conflicts.

4.5 Reporting requirements

Data provided through the submission of logbooks is the primary method through which catch, effort, landings, value, retained bycatch, species at risk and positional information is collected for this fishery. Historically, compliance with reporting requirements was approximately 75%. In 2008, DFO announced that, effective for the 2009 season, licences for lobster fishing would not be issued until fish harvesters have filed reporting documents (logbooks) for all months of the previous lobster season. Licence holders should refer to their conditions for details related to reporting requirements including those related to species at risk. Licence holders who have banked their licence must still comply with reporting requirements (this may entail submission of a nil report).

Logbooks must be submitted to a certified dockside monitoring company (DMC) recognized by DFO Maritimes Region. In LFA 27, Gulf-based licence holders who land their catch in Gulf Region submit their logbooks to DFO and the data is held in Gulf Region databases.

4.6 Retained bycatch

4.6.1 Existing authorizations

Licence holders in all LFAs may retain incidentally caught rock crab, green crab and sculpins. Typically, these species are retained for use as bait by the licence holder. In LFAs 34-38, licence holders may also retain incidentally caught Jonah crab. A current priority for the fishery is to review the impact that retention in the fishery may be having on these populations (other than on green crab, which is an invasive species).

In the recent past, licence holders were required to record any crab they retained for use as bait on their lobster log and any crab they landed and sold on a separate crab log. There was no requirement to report retained sculpins. In the fall of 2018, a new version of the lobster log and new reporting instructions were introduced. Licence holders are now required to report all of their retained bycatch, including sculpins, on their lobster log, whether the bycatch is retained for personal use as bait or landed and sold. The new requirements reflect an attempt to simplify and improve catch reporting in the fishery.

At-sea sampling is also being systematically introduced. Data from the at-sea sampling will be used along with the logbook data to estimate mortality of rock crab, sculpins and Jonah crab in the fishery.

4.6.2 New authorizations

On occasion, licence holders have asked to be allowed to retain other species of bycatch. Any such requests must be submitted to DFO through the advisory committee process. The department has agreed with the industry that these requests will be reviewed according to 3 criteria:

Under existing regional policy, developing the science needed to demonstrate the sustainability of the harvest of bycatch species is the responsibility of the lobster industry.

In LFA 33, a pilot project was undertaken from 2014/15 to 2016/17 to allow retention of incidentally caught Jonah crab when fishing inside 12 nautical miles from shore. The pilot was terminated after the 3 years for a number of reasons, including a lack of progress in establishing sustainability.

In LFA 27, a pilot project was initiated in 2016 to allow retention of incidentally caught cunner. Catch data is being collected by the industry and reported on annually to the department. The pilot is under review.

4.7 Discarded bycatch

4.7.1 Undersized lobsters

Lobsters less than the minimum legal size must be released. In LFAs 28 and 29, the minimum legal size is 84 mm. In the remaining inshore LFAs, the minimum legal size is 82.5 mm. Minimizing the capture of undersized lobsters is desirable for the efficiency of the fishery as well as to minimize the stress and injury that may result from handling. To minimize the capture of undersized lobsters, all traps must be fitted with escape vents in the exterior wall of each parlour. The vents may also facilitate the escape of non-target species. Discarded lobsters are generally expected to survive and the release of undersized lobsters, along with the release of berried and v-notched female lobsters, is an important conservation measure in the fishery.

4.7.2 Other discarded species

Several species of fish and crustaceans are caught as a bycatch in lobster trap fisheries. Where retention is not authorized, these species must be returned immediately to the waters from which they were taken and in a manner that causes them the least harm.

DFO’s Policy on Managing Bycatch requires the monitoring of fisheries on bycatch species. Systematic at-sea data collection is being introduced in inshore LFAs where it does not currently exist (LFAs 28-30 and 33-38) and reviewed and expanded where it does (LFAs 27 and 31A-32). Should discard amounts of any species be a concern, post-release survival studies may be undertaken and mitigation measures considered. Populations of particular interest at this time include cusk and 4X5Y cod.

4.7.3 Species at risk

A number of marine species are considered to be at risk within Canada. Ensuring protection and promoting recovery of at-risk species is a national priority. To this end, Canada developed the Species at Risk Act  (SARA) and a number of complementary programs to promote recovery and protection of species considered to be extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern under SARA or identified as such by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

SARA includes prohibitions that protect endangered, threatened and extirpated species (Section 32), their residences (Section 33) and their critical habitat (Section 58). Provided specific criteria can be met, SARA allows activities that would otherwise be prohibited to proceed through the issuance of permits or agreements under Section 73 and 74 or through exemptions under Section 83(4). The recovery of species at risk involves the development and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans or management plans and the protection of any critical habitat that has been identified as necessary for the survival or recovery of the species. For species listed as special concern, critical habitat is not identified and the Section 32 prohibitions do not apply.

The Government of Canada has listed several species on Schedule 1 of SARA. Within the Maritimes Region, the following are SARA-listed species for which there may be interactions with the inshore lobster fishery.

In accordance with Section 83(4) of SARA, lobster licence holders are currently permitted to conduct their fishery, which may interact with the 2 wolffish species listed as threatened and the leatherback sea turtle listed as endangered, under the condition that any animals incidentally captured be returned to the water in a manner that causes the least harm possible. This permission is provided and described in each species’ respective recovery strategy, which may change over time. The Species at risk public registry contains up-to-date information.

Mandatory prohibitions do not apply to species listed as special concern. Therefore, licence holders do not need to receive SARA permits for fishery interactions with Atlantic wolffish or other special concern species.

There are currently no activities permitted under Section 83(4) of SARA as they relate to the North Atlantic right whale (NARW) nor northern bottlenose whale.

4.7.4 Marine mammals

Fishing can present a threat to marine mammals as a result of vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing lines. Standard operating procedures for setting and retrieving gear have been developed in some LFAs to reduce the potential for entanglement and in all LFAs licence holders have been encouraged to minimize the amount of fishing line floating at the surface. In some LFAs, licence holders have agreed to a maximum distance between primary and secondary buoys.

Roseway Basin, which overlaps with LFAs 33, 34 and 40, has been identified as critical habitat for NARWs. Grand Manan Basin, which overlaps with LFAs 34 and 38, has also been identified as critical habitat. NARWs have typically been present in the waters of Maritimes Region from June through December and as a result their presence has not overlapped with most of the lobster fishing activity. Nevertheless, additional surveillance is conducted at the start of the fishing season in the Bay of Fundy and delays in the opening of the lobster seasons are considered if NARW are present. In-season closures are also considered. In 2018, the department closed an area within Roseway Basin to fixed gear fishing for a period of 16 days because of the presence of NARWs. There were also 2 closures in 2018 to fixed gear fisheries in Grand Manan Basin, 1 for 16 days and the other for 30 days. Only the 16 day closure in Grand Manan Basin affected the lobster fishery, as the other closures occurred when the commercial lobster seasons were closed.

Research is being undertaken in many fixed gear fisheries in Canada and abroad to better understand the risks that fishing activity presents to marine mammals and to develop innovations that will reduce the risk and/or severity of entanglements. The department is working with the industry in all LFAs on gear-related measures to reduce risk in the lobster fishery.

4.8 LFA 40

In 1979, DFO established a rectangular, regulatory closed area on Browns Bank, identified as LFA 40, to protect lobster brood stock (see Figure 2). The closure continues to remain in effect and is 1 of the conservation measures in both the inshore and offshore lobster fisheries for promoting lobster productivity. The closure encompasses all portions of Browns Bank shallower than 50 fathoms and straddles the inshore/offshore line, with approximately 57% of its area in LFA 34 and 43% in LFA 41. The closure does not affect other fishing gear sectors.

4.9 Marine conservation targets

In October 2017, the Government of Canada announced that it has reached its first milestone of protecting 5% of marine and coastal areas. The federal government remains committed to protecting 10% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020. The 2020 target is both a domestic target (Canada’s Biodiversity Target 1) and an international target as reflected in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations General Assembly’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under Goal 14. The 2017 and 2020 targets are collectively referred to as Canada’s marine conservation targets. For more information on the background and drivers for Canada’s marine conservation targets, visit Meeting Canada’s marine conservation targets.

To meet these targets, Canada is establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (other measures, also known as marine refuges), in consultation with industry, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties. See Marine protected areas (MPAs), areas of interest (AOIs) and other measures for an overview of these tools, including a description of the role of fisheries management measures that qualify as other measures.

Specific management measures established for the inshore lobster fishery have been identified to contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets. These management measures consist of the Musquash Estuary MPA (LFA 36), St. Anns Bank MPA (LFA 27) and 3 sensitive benthic area closures that are considered marine refuges (see sub-section 4.10).

4.10 Sensitive benthic areas

Canada is committed under United Nations Resolution 61/105, to protecting marine habitats that are particularly sensitive to fishing. A principal policy for meeting this commitment in Canadian waters is DFO’s Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas (SBA Policy). The SBA Policy requires that mitigation measures be considered where there is a risk that bottom-contact fishing will cause serious or irreversible harm to ecologically or biologically significant areas. Currently, several important coral and sponge grounds in Maritimes Region are closed to bottom contact fishing under this policy. There are 3 that fall within the fishing grounds of the inshore lobster fishery: the Emerald Basin Sponge Conservation Area (in LFAs 32 and 33); the Sambro Bank Sponge Conservation Area (in LFA 33); and the Jordan Basin Conservation Area (in LFA 34).

4.11 Gear impacts

As discussed in Section 2.1.1 Stock assessment, adult lobsters can be found on all bottom types (e.g., cobble, ledge, mud, sand and gravel). In high energy areas, particularly mud and sand, natural sediment movements have a significantly greater impact than lobster traps. The spatial scale of the trap foot print is small and traps are weighted in order to minimize movement due to currents. As a result, the area of potential damage on the marine ecosystem, including the benthic habitat, is likely to be insignificant compared to other types of fishing gear. Trap impacts do however, depend on density of placement and frequency of trap hauls (see Section 2.2.4) and the potential impact of the tens of millions of trap hauls in a year throughout the entire Maritimes Region is not fully understood.

4.12 Market access

4.12.1 European Union and IUU fishing

The European Union introduced regulations effective January 2010 that require Canadian fish and seafood products to have a government validated catch certificate attesting that the product is from a non-IUU fishery (illegal, unregulated and unreported fishery). Live lobster is not exempt from this requirement.

DFO has created a new Catch Certification Office (CCO) and that provides client services to those in the fishing industry affected by this regulation. These services are through a web-based system (called the Fisheries Certificate System) that accepts applications from industry with validation from the CCO and then audit and verification by enforcement employees. The first official catch certificate under the European Union IUU catch regulation was issued successfully on January 1, 2010. More information can be found on online.

4.12.2 Paralytic shellfish poisoning

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with algae that contains a toxin harmful to humans. When algae levels elevate in marine waters the condition is sometimes referred to as a red tide. In July 2008, after testing United States lobster samples, the United States Food and Drug Agency advised the public against consuming lobster hepatopancreas from the East Coast (including Canada) due to elevated levels of PSP. Subsequently, Japan implemented mandatory testing of hepatopancreas in shipments of lobsters from Canada to verify compliance with Japan’s Food Sanitation Law. This mandatory testing slowed the release of the product to market and if tested positive was refused entry to Japan.

In response to requirements by the Japanese government, a survey was conducted throughout the Maritimes to determine the distribution and levels of PSP. Canada and Japan have agreed upon a certification process whereby exporters test their own shipments and obtain export certificates through the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA). Although random shipments may be tested, this allows for the unrestricted flow of product into Japan.

4.12.3 Ecolabelling

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international, non-profit organization that administers a widely recognized environmental certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries. MSC-certified fish products are said to come from fisheries that meet standards for sustainable fishing. In 2015, the inshore lobster fisheries in Maritimes, along with those in Gulf Region, were certified as sustainable by the MSC. The application for assessment was submitted by the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Lobster Eco-Certification Society, a group of harvesters, buyers, shippers and processors that was formed in order to pursue their mutual interest in eco-certification. In order to maintain the certification, the industry has been required to satisfy conditions related to the specification of research objectives, species used for bait, bycatch monitoring and harvest control rules. The department is working with the industry to meet conditions where these are aligned with DFO policies and priorities. Additional information about the MSC is available online.

4.12.4 Transboundary

In October 1984, a binding decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision established the official boundary between Canada and the United States (US) in the Gulf of Maine, known as the Hague Line. The ICJ decision did not address overlapping claims within the 12 mile limit. As a result, an area of approximately 259 km² surrounding Machias Seal Island remains in dispute. The authority for the Canadian claim is found in the Oceans Act , Fishing Zones of Canada (Zone 4 and 5) Order. The authority for the US claim is taken from the US Federal Register/Vol. 60: No 163/ Wednesday August 23, 1995 / Notices. 43825 .

In the late 1990s, Maine lobster harvesters significantly increased their effort in the Disputed Zone, causing considerable concern for adjacent Canadian lobster harvesters. Discussions between officials and licence holders have failed to achieve a consensus on the management of this area. Since 2002, DFO has authorized LFA 38 licence holders to fish during the summer so as to provide year-round Canadian fishing access within the Disputed Zone (Area 38B).

Canada-US enforcement collaboration has included an annual joint enforcement planning meeting between Department of Marine Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and DFO. In addition, DFO Conservation and Protection officials, the Canadian Coast Guard Captains and the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources have a joint planning approach for vessel patrols providing a strong enforcement presence throughout the Disputed Zone.

5. Obectives

Management planning involves the specification of objectives (what you want to achieve), of strategies (what will be done to achieve these objectives) and of tactical management measures (how the strategies will be implemented). It is impractical to pursue conservation in isolation from the economic, social and cultural aspirations of users and these must be recognized in any plan if it is to be successful. This section therefore presents objectives for both the conservation aspects of the fishery and the social, cultural and economic aspects. Section 6 presents the strategies associated with these objectives and Section 7 presents the tactical management measures that will be adhered to for the duration of this plan.

5.1 Conservation objectives

Any commercial fishing will have some level of negative impact on the ecosystem. The intent of DFO’s conservation objectives is to limit negative impacts on the ecosystem (i.e. on harvested stocks, non-harvested stocks or the habitats on which stocks rely). DFO is committed to managing in an environmentally sustainable manner while recognizing the economic importance of this industry to multiple stakeholders. The overarching conservation objective is to allow sustainable use that safeguards ecological processes and genetic diversity for present and future generations.

More specifically, DFO’s conservation objectives are as follows:

Productivity is currently the primary conservation objective for the Maritimes Region inshore lobster fishery and achieving this objective is critical. A discussion on reproductive productivity is in Section 2.1.4 Reproductive potential. Background on species productivity for lobster is available in the FRCC reports of 1995 and 2007, as well as in the 2001 Report of the Lobster Conservation Working Group.

5.2 Social, cultural and economic objectives

A departmental social, cultural and economic objective is to support healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities and to ensure respect for the constitutional protection afforded Aboriginal and treaty rights.

A second objective is to help create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries. The commercial fishing industry generates economic benefits for Canadian businesses and supports many coastal communities. Ultimately, the economic viability of the commercial fishery depends on the industry itself. However, the department is committed to managing the commercial fishery in a manner that helps its members be economically successful while using the ocean’s resources in an environmentally sustainable manner. The overarching social, cultural and economic objective is thus to help create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries wherein fishing enterprises are more self-reliant, self-adjusting and internationally competitive.

The Economic Profile of the Maritimes Region Inshore Commercial Lobster Fishery, written by the Policy and Economics Branch of DFO, Maritimes Region, provides an in-depth review of the contribution the Maritimes Region lobster fishery makes to our social, cultural and economic objectives.

6. Strategies

While the above objectives may be considered to be general statements, they are translated into practical terms through the definition of strategies. The strategies outlined in this IFMP constitute what is being done to manage pressures imposed by fishing activities in order to control their impact on valued fish population and ecosystem attributes. Such pressures include fishing mortality, disturbance of bottom habitat and introduction of pollutants. Fish population attributes include spawning biomass, size/age structure, genetic diversity. Similarly, ecosystems attributes include the area of a particular habitat type and the balance of predators to prey.

DFO is making efforts to identify ecologically or biologically sensitive areas (EBSAs), ecologically or biologically sensitive species (EBSSs), depleted species and degraded areas that are also viewed as attributes of an ecosystem.

Strategies define how the pressures imposed by human activities will be managed, e.g. what level of fishing mortality is viewed as acceptable and how much bottom habitat disturbance is too much. This is done by using references that define pressure levels that cause unacceptable or undesirable impacts on valued ecosystem attributes. The basis for determining references will vary depending on the state of knowledge. Some may be chosen fairly arbitrarily when knowledge is weak, perhaps based on historical trends. When more is known, their determination may involve evaluation of alternative population/ecosystem dynamics models, ranging from single species to full ecosystem models. There are many gaps in scientific knowledge of ecosystem structure and function and no matter how references are determined they will need revision as the human and environmental factors affecting ecosystems become better understood.

6.1 Conservation strategies

Explicit strategies (with specified references where these have been developed) have been developed for the key pressures imposed by the inshore lobster fishery, as follows.


As discussed in Section 2, the strategy for moderating lobster fishing mortality is provisional. Work is ongoing to refine the strategy in accordance with the department’s policy on the precautionary approach.

In addition, consideration will need to be given to accounting for incidental mortality from lost lobster traps as well as to developing reference points for the retained bycatch species.


The contribution of the inshore lobster fishery to the mortality of NARWs cannot be quantitatively measured. Nevertheless, since right whales are endangered, efforts will continue to keep interactions with them as low as practicable.

The need to develop more specific strategies and reference points for other species will be considered as the impact of the inshore lobster fishery on bycatch becomes better understood. Additional data on discards from the fishery was collected in 2009/10 and more comprehensive data collection has been initiated across the region.


Currently there are 2 MPAs and 3 sensitive benthic area closures within the inshore lobster fishing grounds. Overviews of these conservation areas and associated objectives are available online.

Other strategies for protecting habitat are to limit the introduction of pollutants and debris (oils, plastic straps, bait boxes, tags, etc.) from the large number of vessels used in this fishery.

6.2 Social, cultural and economic strategies

In the inshore lobster fishery, the strategy for supporting healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities is as follows:

The strategies for achieving the more general prosperity objective are as follows:

These strategies reflect some of the recommendations from the AFPR, which has been subsumed within the broader Fisheries Renewal initiative. Among other things, AFPR emphasized the need for flexibility in policy and licensing and stability in access to resources and allocations. Fisheries Renewal recognizes that strategies such as these will improve the ability of fishing enterprises to adapt to changing resource and market conditions and to respond to market opportunities. These are particularly important to the inshore lobster fishery, which historically has been a cyclic fishery both in abundance and in market price. The fleet requires methods to adapt to both good and bad conditions

In addition, the region’s strategies for supporting economic prosperity reflect the increasingly conservation orientated environment in which the fishing industry operates. Fish harvesters face increasing domestic and international pressure to demonstrate the sustainability of their operations with respect to both the target species and the ecosystem more broadly. Continued access to some markets hinges on this. In this context, the department is committed to supporting fleets seeking environmental certification and, in this way, to helping maintain access to international and domestic markets.

7. Tactical and management measures for the duration of the plan

Tactical management measures are how the strategies will be implemented to manage the pressures imposed by fishery activities. The principal tactical management measures that will be applied in this fishery to implement the key strategies identified above are described here. (Note that tactics may regulate more than 1 pressure. They are listed here under the strategies with which they are most strongly associated.)


Keep lobster fishing mortality moderate

Keep fishing mortality moderate for bycatch

Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning


Control unintended incidental mortality of NARWs

Control unintended incidental mortality for other species


Manage area disturbed of bottom habitat

Limit introduction of pollutants


Facilitate Aboriginal participation in fisheries and associated economic opportunities and in the management of aquatic resources

Offer flexibility in policy and licensing

Promote stability in access to resources and allocations

Allow self-adjustment of capacity to resource availability

Support certification for sustainability

8. Access and allocation

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that members of the Musqueam band had an Aboriginal right to fish for FSC purposes. As a response to that decision, DFO launched the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, which provided members of Aboriginal groups access to fisheries resources for FSC purposes. DFO recognizes this FSC access to fishery resources has priority over other allocations, provided conservation of the stock is not an issue. Within this principle, DFO provides regulated access to lobster for Aboriginal people to provide for some of their FSC needs.

Commercial access to this resource is managed as a limited entry, competitive fishery. Access is provided through commercial licences identified as Category A licences, Category B licences (1/3 the number of traps of a Category A licence) or partnerships (1.5 times the number of traps of a Category A licence). First Nations organizations are provided commercial access through communal commercial licences equivalent to Category A licences, with flexibility in how the licences are fished.

There is no recreational access.

Note that the Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act .

9. Shared stewardship arrangements

As with other fisheries in Maritimes Region, the advisory committee process is the primary consultation forum for the inshore lobster fishery. Committees typically consist of representatives of industry, Aboriginal communities, provincial governments, community stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and DFO. Harvester representatives generally include elected port representatives (or an alternate). Advisory committees provide an interface for discussion on issues, such as conservation, protection, science and fisheries management. Many day-to-day management concerns are addressed through the work of these committees. In addition to advisory committees other committees are place to discuss specific matters including science and enforcement and DFO engages in issue specific consultation, formally and informally, on an ongoing basis.

10. Compliance plan

10.1 Conservation and Protection program description

The management of Canadian fisheries requires an integrated approach to monitoring, control and surveillance that involves the deployment of fishery officers to conduct at-sea boardings and aerial surveillance, land patrols, dockside monitoring audits, as well as plant and harvester inspections.

Conservation and Protection (C&P) activities are designed to ensure compliance with the legislation, policies and fishing plans as they relate to conservation and the sustainable use of the resource. The C&P National Compliance Framework describes a 3 pillar approach to the monitoring and enforcement of this and other fisheries. The pillars are Education/Shared Stewardship, Monitoring Control and Surveillance and Major Case Management.

10.2 Regional compliance program delivery

Compliance in the inshore lobster fishery is achieved through the application of the Fisheries Act, the Fishery (General) Regulations, the Atlantic Fishery Regulations and the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations .

The following offers a general description of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities carried out by C&P in the inshore lobster fishery.

10.3 Consultation

Shared stewardship and education are achieved in the inshore lobster fishery through a renewed emphasis on the importance of communication with the community at large, including the following:

10.4 Compliance program performance

In recent years, C&P has been building its intelligence and major case management capability for all fisheries. The program is moving toward increased intelligence gathering, specialized investigations, retroactive review of suspected illegal activity and broadening the scope of inspections to include buyers, plants and transportation. Some of this work has focused on the inshore lobster fishery. A summary of officer time, violations and penalties is presented in Appendix 4.

10.5 Current compliance issues

The exceeding of trap limits with untagged and tagged gear, fishing in closed or unauthorized areas and the retention of incidental catch to rebait traps (rather than returning it to the water) are 3 enforcement concerns that exist in all LFAs. Fishing in closed or unauthorized areas includes fishing during a closed time, fishing in an area that the licence holder is not authorized to fish in and fishing in closed areas (e.g., a marine protected area). Species such as cod, snow crab, winter flounder and female rock and Jonah crab are examples of some of the incidentally caught species that are used as bait and not returned to the sea as required by regulations.

Illegal fishing in all of its forms is a serious threat to the orderly management and control of the inshore lobster fishery. In 2018, lobster prices ranged from $6.50 to $9.00 per pound ($14.50-$20.00 per kg) depending on the time of the year and quality of lobster. The high prices paid as well as cash sales for lobster afford a substantial financial incentive to engage in the illegal harvesting of lobster within this region. These higher prices are related to increased demand for the export lobster market. This kind of activity negatively affects future management goals that are set by industry and Fisheries Management.

Other enforcement concerns include the removal of eggs from egg bearing female lobsters; the retention of lobsters that are less than the minimum legal size; and the accurate and timely completion and submission of harvest data.

A review of violations for the period of 2015 to 2017 suggests that non-compliance in the inshore lobster fishery is largely related to the use of illegal gear (traps that exceed the trap limit and traps built in a manner that does not meet legal requirements for lobster traps) and fishing in an unauthorized area or during a closed time. See Appendix 4 for a list of inshore lobster violations by issue and a list of violations by action taken.

To be effective in deterring non-compliance, the efforts taken by C&P must demonstrate that the likelihood of violations being detected is high and that serious violations will result in penalties being imposed. The responses to non-compliance include warnings, tickets or prosecution. Targeted efforts are taken to determine the level of compliance in this fishery and to set targets for an acceptable level of compliance that is achievable given the availability of resources for the program.

10.6 Compliance strategy

Based on established regional compliance priorities, C&P detachment supervisors prepare annual work plans and allocate human, material and financial resources based on an assessment of compliance risks in each fishery. Table 13 summarizes the challenges in this fishery and strategies to address them as described by C&P detachment supervisors.

Table 13: Inshore lobster compliance challenges and strategies.
Compliance risks Mitigating strategies

Illegal use of gear/bait

  • Untagged gear
  • Unauthorized gear use
  • Illegal retention for use as bait

Closed area and time issues

  • Fishing in an area without license
  • Fishing in closed area/time

Catch and reporting issues

  • Fraud and collusion
  • Unreported sales
  • Improper logbook
  • Engagement, education and communication with industry
  • Conduct patrols and inspections using available intelligence.
  • Traceability of legal sales
  • Use major case investigations when appropriate
  • Collaborative work with other federal, provincial and municipal agencies and departments

11. Performance review

It is crucial to effective management that there be evaluations of the performance of sector plans, or specific elements of them, to determine whether the rules and regulations that were employed are being effective and thus that the strategies in the overall plan are being adequately implemented in that sector. The general plan evaluation will determine whether:

Long-term objectives for the IFMP centre on maintaining viability of the stock and existing fleet, promoting shared stewardship and optimizing benefits for participants and local communities. Evaluation criteria include:

The development of a precautionary approach with identification of effective measures will be a major performance indicator.

12. Monitoring

For reviews of performance evaluation and compliance with tactical management measures to be possible, it is necessary to collect the appropriate data that provide information on how well or badly the various features of the plan are performing.

13. Plan enhancement

These areas for enhancement have been identified:

  1. Improve data quality
  2. Improve protection for mature females
  3. Improve governance

Efforts to develop a framework for development and implementation of the precautionary approach for this fishery are underway. Progress in this regard is expected to advance the efforts to achieve both conservation and socio-economic goals.

Appendix 1 - Glossary

Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK): Knowledge that is held by, and unique to, Aboriginal peoples. It is a living body of knowledge that is cumulative and dynamic and adapted over time to reflect changes in the social, economic, environmental, spiritual and political spheres of the Aboriginal knowledge holders. It often includes knowledge about the land and its resources, spiritual beliefs, language, mythology, culture, laws, customs and medicines.

Abundance: Number of individuals in a stock or a population

Age composition: Proportion of individuals of different ages in a stock or in the catches

Biomass: Total weight of all individuals in a stock or a population

Catch per unit effort (CPUE): The amount caught for a given fishing effort, ex., pounds of lobster per trap haul

Communal commercial licence: Licence issued to Aboriginal organizations pursuant to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations  for participation in the general commercial fishery

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Committee of experts that assess and designate which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada

Discards: Portion of a catch released back to the water after they are caught in fishing gear.

Dockside monitoring program (DMP): A monitoring program that is conducted by a company that has been designated by the department, which verifies the species composition and landed weight of all fish landed from a commercial fishing vessel and/or inputs data from monitoring documents

Ecosystem-based management: Taking into account species interactions and the interdependencies between species and their habitats when making resource management decisions

Fishing effort: Quantity of effort using a given fishing gear over a given period of time

Fixed gear: A type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position (including lobster traps)

Food, social and ceremonial (FSC): A fishery conducted by Aboriginal groups for food, social and ceremonial purposes

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed

Mesh size: Size of the mesh of a net. Different fisheries have different minimum mesh size regulation

Mobile gear: A type of fishing gear that is drawn through the water by a vessel to entrap fish, including otter trawls and Danish/Scottish seines

Nominal value: The dollar value realized in a given year without adjustment for inflation

Observer coverage:  When a licence holder is required to carry an officially recognized observer onboard their vessel for a specific period of time to verify the amount of fish caught, the area in which it was caught and the method by which it was caught. Observers may also be used to witness removal of tags and retagging of lobster gear.

Population: Group of individuals of the same species, forming a breeding unit and sharing a habitat

Precautionary approach: Set of agreed cost-effective measures and actions, including future courses of action, which ensure prudent foresight, reduce or avoid risk to the resource, the environment and the people, to the extent possible, taking explicitly into account existing uncertainties and the potential consequences of being wrong

Recruitment: Amount of individuals becoming part of the exploitable stock, e.g., that can be caught in a fishery

Research survey: Survey at sea, on a research vessel, allowing scientists to obtain information on the abundance and distribution of various species and/or collect oceanographic data. (i.e., bottom trawl survey, plankton survey, hydroacoustic survey, etc.)

Species at Risk Act (SARA): The Act is a federal government commitment to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity

Spawning stock: Sexually mature individuals in a stock

Stock: Describes a population of individuals of 1 species found in a particular area and is used as a unit for fisheries management, eg. NAFO area 4R herring

Stock assessment: Scientific evaluation of the status of a species belonging to a same stock within a particular area in a given time period

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK): A cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs, handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with 1 another and with their environment

Tonne: Metric tonne, which is 1,000kg or 2,204.6lbs

Validation: The verification, by an observer, of the weight of fish landed

Vessel size: Length overall

Year-class: Individuals of a same stock born in a particular year. Also called cohort

Appendix 2 - References

Aiken, D. E. and S. L. Waddy (1986). “Environmental influence on recruitment of the American lobster, Homarus americanus: a perspective.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 2258-2270.

Benestan L, et al. 2015. RAD genotyping reveals fine‐scale genetic structuring and provides powerful population assignment in a widely distributed marine species, the American lobster (Homarus americanus). Molecular Ecology 25(7) 1626-1629.

Campbell, A. (1983). “Growth of tagged American lobsters, Homarus americanus, in the Bay of Fundy.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 40(10): 1667-1675.

Campbell, A. (1986). “Migratory movements of ovigerous lobsters, Homarus americanus, tagged off Grand Manan, Eastern Canada.” Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 43: 2197-2205.

Carter, J. A. and D. H. Steele (1982). “Stomach Contents of Immature Lobsters (Homarus americanus) From Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.” Canadian Journal of Zoology/Revue Canadienne de Zoologie 60(3): 337-347.

Chiarella, L. A., D. K. Stevenson, et al. (2005). “Results of a Workshop on the Effects of Fishing Gear on Benthic Habitats off the Northeastern United States.” American Fisheries Society Symposium 41: 833-834. 2005.

Comeau, M. and F. Savoie (2001). “Growth increment and molt frequency of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the southwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence.” Journal of Crustacean Biology 21(4): 923-936.

Comeau, M. and F. Savoie (2002). “Maturity and reproductive cycle of the female American lobster, Homarus americanus in the southern Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada.” Journal of Crustacean Biology 22(4): 762-774.

DFO (2009). Biological Basis for the Protection of Large Lobsters in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 to 38. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2008/017 16p.

DFO. 2010. Assessment of Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) in Scallop Fishing Area (SFA) 29 West of Longitude 65 30'W. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2010/039.

DFO. 2010. Potential impacts of fishing gears (excluding mobile bottom-contacting gears) on marine habitats and communities. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2010/003.

DFO. 2012. Reference points consistent with the precautionary approach for a variety of stocks in the Maritimes Region. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2012/035.

Drinkwater, K., C. Hannah, et al. (2001). Modelling the Drift of Lobster Larvae off Southwest Nova Scotia Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document. 2001/51: 32.

Drinkwater, K. F., M. J. Tremblay, et al. (2006). “The influence of wind and temperature on the catch rate of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) during spring fisheries off eastern Canada.” Fisheries Oceanography 15(2): 150-165.

Elner, R. W. and A. Campbell (1987). “Natural diets of lobster Homarus americanus from barren ground and macroalgal habitats off southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada.” Marine ecology progress series. Oldendorf 37(2-3): 131-140.

Eno, N., D. S. Macdonald, et al. (2001). “Effects of crustacean traps on benthic fauna.” ICES Journal of Marine Science 58(1): 11-20.

Fogarty, M. J. and J. S. Idoine (1988). “Application of a yield and egg production model based on size to an offshore American lobster population.” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 117(4): 350-362.

Gendron, L., P. Fradette, et al. (2001). “The importance of rock crab (Cancer irroratus) for growth, condition and ovary development of adult American lobster (Homarus americanus).” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 262(2): 221-241.

Harding, G. C. (1992). American lobster (Homarus americanus Millne Edwards): A discussion paper on their environmental requirements and the known anthropogenic effects on their populations: Canadian technical report of fisheries and aquatic sciences/Rapport technique canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques 1992.

Kenchington, E. L., G. C. Harding, et al. (2009). “Pleistocene glaciation events shape genetic structure across the range of the American lobster, Homarus americanus.” Molecular Ecology 18(8): 1654-1667.

Lavalli, K. L. and P. Lawton (1996). “Historical review of lobster life history terminology and proposed modifications to current schemes.” Crustaceana 69(5): 594-609.

Morgan, L. E. and R. Chuenpagdee (2003). Shifting gears: addressing the collateral impacts of fishing methods in U.S. waters. Pew science series on conservation and the environment, Pew science series on conservation and the environment, Environment Division Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pezzack, D.S., C.M. Denton and M.J. Tremblay (2014). “Overview of By-catch and Discards in the Maritimes Region Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 27-33 based on Species at Risk Act(SARA) At-sea Sampling 2009-2010. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2014/040. V + 27 p.

Pezzack, D. S. and D. R. Duggan (1986). “Evidence of migration and homing of lobsters (Homarus americanus) on the Scotian Shelf.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 2206-2211.

Pugh T. L. 2014. The potential for sperm limitation in American lobsters (Homarus americanus) as indicated by female mating activity and male reproductive capacity. Doctoral dissertation, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.

Tremblay, J., D. Pezzack, C. Denton, A. Reeves, S. Smith, A. Silva and J. Allard. 2011. Framework for assessing lobster off the coast of eastern Cape Breton and the eastern and south shores of Nova Scotia (LFAs 27-33). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2011/058.

Tremblay, M.J., Pezzack, D.S. and Gaudette, J. 2012. Development of Reference points for Inshore Lobster in the Maritimes Region (LFAs 27-38). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2012/028. iv + 18 p.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1986). “Multiple fertilization and consecutive spawning in large American lobsters, Homarus americanus.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 4.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1990). “Intermolt insemination, an alternative mating strategy for the American lobster (Homarus americanus).” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 47(12): 2402-2406.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1991). Egg production in the American lobster, Homarus americanus. Crustacean Egg Production A. Wenner and A. Kuris.

Xue, H., L. Incze, et al. (2008). “Connectivity of lobster populations in the coastal Gulf of Maine. Part I: Circulation and larval transport potential.” Ecological Modelling 210(1-2): 193-211

Appendix 3 - Annual landed weights and values

Maritimes Region inshore lobster landed weight and landed value, 1996-97 to 2016-17.
Maritimes region Inshore Lobster
  Landed weight (t) Landed value ($M)
1996-97 16,215 186.6
1997-98 18,400 209.6
1998-99 19,736 260.7
1999-00 20,554 288.2
2000-01 24,369 346.1
2001-02 27,549 334.8
2002-03 26,020 390.6
2003-04 26,254 364.8
2004-05 27,231 380.4
2005-06 28,523 387.5
2006-07 28,888 364.7
2007-08 31,518 385.7
2008-09 32,274 322.3
2009-10 35,056 317.4
2010-11 37,419 375.4
2011-12 43,714 420.0
2012-13 44,029 382.6
2013-14 51,408 565.0
2014-15 51,965 660.1
2015-16p 60,819 875.9
2016-17p 52,852 833.3

Note: data for most recent years is preliminary

Appendix 4 - C&P statistical summary

Total hours dedicated to inshore lobster, 2015-2017.
2015 2016 2017
28,385 28,373 21,016

Note: The above totals are for the entire Maritimes Region C&P Area

Total hours dedicated to inshore lobster, 2015-2017.
Year 2015 2016 2017
Vehicles 248 135 95
Vessels 4,199 3,535 2,527
Persons 3,131 3,474 2,636
Gear 67,202 68,375 60,741
Site Checks 8,310 7,994 6,165
Inshore lobster violations by issue and calendar year, 2015-2017.
Issue 2015 2016 2017 Average
    Fish for lobster during a closed time 74 82 67 74
Illegal gear / gear used Illegally        
    Gear used Illegally 83 97 43 74
    Gear conflict 5 1 3 3
Illegal buy/sell/possess        
    Illegal buy sell possess 131 107 94 111
    Illegal export     1 0.3
    Illegal transportation 1     0.3
    Inspection 2 6 2 3
    Species size limit 33 38 28 33
    Registration licence 107 205 133 149
    Reporting 21 505 35 187
    Assault/obstruct 7 5 1 4
    Other legislation 5 6   4
Total 469 1,052 407 643

Note: This index is derived from the Fishery Officer time tracking system. This includes all violations observed by fishery officers and not just those that resulted in an apprehension, charge or conviction. This index does not consider severity. Fines imposed in the Maritimes Region in accordance to the Fisheries Act are available online.

Inshore lobster violations by action taken, 2015-2017.
Action 2015 2016 2017 Average
Charges laid 185 196 97 159
Charges not approved 20 18 9 16
Charges pending / under review 13 23 34 23
Diverted (alternative measures) 1   3 1
Other 5 7 0 4
Seizure(s) - personal unknown 35 58 50 48
Ticket issued   1 1 0.7
Warning issued 210 749 213 391
Total 469 1052 407 643

Appendix 5 - Amendments

Various updates, corrections and edits throughout. Primarily these: March 2019

¹ In LFA 29, the sizes are 70 to <84 mm for sub-legal lobsters and ≥84 mm for legal-sized lobsters. Data on sub-legal and legal catch rates is not available for LFA 28.
² Lobster in the Canadian fishery is the species American Lobster (Homarus americanus).
³ National Occupational Classifications 826 (Fishing vessel master and fishermen/women), 8611 (Harvesting labourers) and 8441 (Fishing vessel deckhands).
4 National Occupational Classifications 9463 (Fish and seafood plant workers) and 9618 (Labourers in fish and seafood processing.
5 Note that landings data from LFA 27 licence holders that are based in DFO Gulf Region is not included in this report.
6 Note that landings information for LFA 28 is not shown for confidentiality reasons due to the low number of LFA 28 licence holders.
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