'It's the best price I've ever seen': Snow crab market heats up in northern Cape Breton

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Snow crab caught off Neils Harbour, Cape Breton. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
Snow crab caught off Neils Harbour, Cape Breton. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

Record-breaking prices for snow crab at the wharf in Neils Harbour have fishermen pleased.

Soaring demand from the U.S. has resulted in snow crab coming in at over $8 a pound. The price was closer to $4.25 this time last year.

Dave Donovan fishes out of Neils Harbour on board the Krista & Megan.

"Eight dollars is a big bonus," he said. "I guess it's the best price I've ever seen since I've been in the fishery."

Donovan said the hot market this year is welcomed by all on the wharf, and in the processing plant.

Dave Donovan is a snow crab fisherman. He says current prices are the best he's ever seen.
Dave Donovan is a snow crab fisherman. He says current prices are the best he's ever seen.(Matthew Moore/CBC)

For the tiny fishing village, Donovan sees the high price as a big economic boost for fishermen, and workers at Victoria Co-operative Fisheries.

"When the fishermen do good, everybody in the community does good because everybody tends to spend more and it helps."

Price jump not anticipated

Up the road at the co-op's office, the high price is a surprise to Osborne Burke.

"We didn't anticipate this," he said. "The market is holding, fishermen are happy, especially the fishermen We're processing and we're shipping weekly from here to markets in the U.S.A. and internationally as well."

Burke said the snow crab is heading toward Boston for the most part, while some trucks are hauling product as far south as Georgia.

With the reopening plan in the U.S., Burke said the market is hot for Atlantic seafood.

"This year you're still having the interest from the retail and you're seeing more food service and more restaurants opening. So it's an increased interest … when there's not a lot of inventory in the system."

Osborne Burke, general manager of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries, says the jump in prices came as a surprise.
Osborne Burke, general manager of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries, says the jump in prices came as a surprise.(Matthew Moore/CBC)

Fishermen were struggling to make ends meet this team last year.

Donovan said catches were relatively high last year, but demand was non-existent once restaurants shut down in North America.

Looking ahead to lobster season, Burke is hoping to see increased interest from foreign markets.

Burke said demand from the Asian market has been high for lobster in recent years and there have been inquiries for snow crab.

"It's good times in the Maritimes," Burke said.

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