Move toward larger lobster raises marketing questions

·1 min read
Most canner lobster are destined to be served on a plate while in the shell. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
Most canner lobster are destined to be served on a plate while in the shell. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

Increases in the minimum allowable size for landed lobsters is changing markets and it's difficult to know how customers will react.

Fishermen in northern New Brunswick have voted to put an end to catching smaller lobsters, known as canners, next year, and P.E.I. fishermen have also voted to increase the minimum carapace size.

Jerry Gavin, executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association, says about 50 per cent of the lobster caught off P.E.I. are canners.

Despite their name, canner lobsters do not for the most part end up in cans. They are largely destined to be cooked whole and served on a plate in the shell.

"There's a bit of a market niche for that, for example, cruise ships, they would like to offer small lobsters as part of a meal on the ship. They're used to buying the small canner lobster. The question is will they adjust," said Gavin.

"It's really hard to predict how a consumer will react."

Carapace size is measured from the back of the eyes to the end of the body.

The dividing line between canners and markets, the larger sized lobsters, is 81 millimetres. In northern New Brunswick fishermen will be able to keep lobster as small as 79 millimetres this year, but that will increase to 81 millimetres next year, effectively ending the canner fishery.

On P.E.I., the minimum size increased to 75 millimetres this year. There is talk of increasing that to 76 next year in fishing area 26A, the eastern end of the Northumberland Strait.

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