Fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador say they're shocked the total allowable catch for snow crab will be slashed 22 per cent this year — and some are relieved it isn't worse news.
"It's going to be very difficult," said Nelson Bussey, a fish harvester in Port de Grave, who's predicting 40 per cent less crab than he caught last year.
The quota, announced Monday by the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans, has been set at 35,419 tonnes.
Bussey says the cut doesn't match up with reality.
"All we're catching is the older crab and they're saying, 'No, b'y, you got to take a 40 per cent hit in one area and a 50 per cent hit in another area,'" he said.
"We are just not seeing it in our fishing pattern, and I guess this is why it's so upsetting."
Others are trying to see a half-empty glass as half-full, when it comes to the snow crab announcement.
Terry Ryan, a fish harvester in La Scie, says his zone, Area 3K, won't see any quota cuts.
"As least we didn't get a decrease, like we did the last four or five years," he said.
"We have bottomed out, it seems."
Scientists had warned snow crab numbers had dropped, but it didn't lessen the blow, which came a few days after DFO announced a 63 per cent cut to the northern shrimp quota.
Bussey says he isn't pinning much hope on a large-scale commercial cod fishery.
"Personally, I'd like to see a balance. Cod is not going to do it for us," he said.
"Cod is OK as a supplement, but let the cod rebound and destroy the crab and the shrimp is just no good."
Even a rebuilt cod fishery is likely at least five years away, Bussey conceded.
That, combined with the announcements about snow crab and shrimp, has left him and others wondering what's next.
"We mostly live from day to day now in this fishery," he said.