THIS FISH

HARVESTING PROFILE

Lobster by Trap

Northumberland Strait — Lobster Fishing Area 25

Fish harvesters use wooden and wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch lobster. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface. The traps attract lobster with bait and capture them live. Fishermen check their traps regularly to haul in their catch. This traditional fishing method has little impact on the seafloor and traps minimal bycatch or unwanted fish.

Lobster Trap
HARVESTING METHOD

Lobster Trap

Lobster traps consist of a rectangular wooden or wire frame covered with nylon netting. The traps capture lobster live by attracting them through an entrance to the centre of the trap where the bait is located. As more lobsters enter the trap, the others move into a side “parlour.” Once inside the holding parlour, the larger lobsters are unable to escape. All traps have an escape hatch to allow small lobster, crabs and fish to get out.

Lobster Trap

Conservation Measures

The lobster fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to the number of traps and fishing days. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:

  • minimum lobster carapace size of 70 mm (2.76 inches) and maximum size of 114 mm (4.49 inches) for females
  • a limited number of licensed fishing vessels (793) in the lobster fishing area
  • seasonal openings and closures to limit catch
  • a limit of 250 traps for each licensed fishing vessel
  • escape mechanisms that enable undersized lobsters to exit traps
  • rules governing the size, design and type of trap
  • biodegradable components that will dismantle traps if lost at sea and therefore prevent “ghost” fishing
  • a rule requiring the release and marking of all female lobsters bearing eggs
Quality and Handling

Local fish harvesters pride themselves on harvesting a smaller, warm-water lobster that is mostly processed, packaged and shipped to restaurants and retailers worldwide. Proper handling is paramount for lobster quality and health. Once landed aboard, lobsters are graded and undersized catch and egg-bearing females returned to the ocean. The catch is stored live in insulated tubs filled with ice to keep cool. Rubber bands are fastened around the claws of lobsters destine for the live market. At the dock, the lobsters are sold and usually taken to a local plant where they are processed into high-quality delicacies such as cooked whole lobster, frozen lobster tails and claws, pâté and other culinary delights. Some lobsters are also shipped live to the market.

Local buyers and exporters also keep live lobsters in a variety of storage facilities, including tidal pounds and tank houses. The best facilities try to mimic the natural hibernating conditions of lobster. They are individually separated into plastic tubes or trays, and placed in fresh, cold seawater to replicate their solitary existence on the seafloor. Proper facilities closely monitor oxygen levels, temperature and salinity of the seawater. Under good conditions, live lobsters can maintain their top quality for several months.

Harvesting Area

Lobster Fishing Area 25 consists of the western end of Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, and a small part of Nova Scotia. The strait’s shallow depth lends itself to the warmest ocean water temperatures (20 degrees Celsius or 70 Fahrenheit) in Canada during the summer. The waters are warm enough to create onshore breezes that have a warming effect on land. The region is famous for its summery microclimate. The fishery takes place in the late summer and early autumn months.

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