Canada currently provides more than half of the world’s supply for live and processed Atlantic lobster, sustainable management practices are crucial to the future of the fishery.

The fishery management system in Canada is regarded among the most complex and sophisticated in the world. In the case of the lobster fishery it is largely managed by effort control and seasonal openings rather than by quota. 

The method of harvesting lobsters has remained largely unchanged throughout the history of the fishery. Lobstermen still use the ecologically sensitive approach of single traps attached to lines and hauled one trap at a time. While this is extremely labor-intensive, it causes minimal disruption to the environment. Despite the eco-friendly approach that lobster harvesters employ, additional legislations are in place to ensure the longevity of the industry.

Lobster Fishery Areas

The lobster grounds are divided up into 41 different Lobster Fishery Areas (LFA) that are usually within 15km from the shore, with one offshore fishery located approximately 90km off the coast of Nova Scotia. Each of the area's has a designated season with the exception of the offshore fishery, which is year-round. 

Conservation Measures

Protection of the lobster stock is managed through a series of conservation measures that reflect the environmental pressures for each of the LFAs. The management plans will vary from region to region and even with individual LFAs. Some practices are enforceable, while others are applied on a voluntary basis. Here are the key conservation measures used by the Canadian lobster fishery:

Carapace Size Limit: minimum (in some cases maximum) lobster carapace size is established for each area based on the condition of the fishery.
Limited Entry of Licenses: the number of licenses for each LFA is limited and is determined by the management plan.
Seasons: seasons vary by LFA and incur limited durations to enhance the conservation measures (with the exception of the offshore fishery).
Trap Limits: a limit is placed on the number traps available to each license registered.
Escape Mechanisms: traps are equipped with escape mechanisms that enable undersized lobsters to exit the trap. Biodegradable panels enable trapped lobsters to escape in the event the trap is lost at sea.
Berried Females (v-notching): in Canada female lobsters bearing eggs (berried females) must be released by law. Cutting a small notch (v-notching) in the female’s tail prior to release is done on a voluntary basis and identifies the lobster for future release by other fishers.
Female Size Limits: in some areas there is both a minimum and maximum carapace size limit for female lobsters (window size limit). This ensures that female lobster at prime breeding size are protected from harvesting.
Trap Designs: regulations and management practices are in place regarding the size and type of trap, the number of parlors, the limitations on the design of trap entrances and maximum hoop sizes.
Fishing Days: some areas limit the hauling of gear to six days per week.
Total Allowable Catch (TAC): there is no TAC for the inshore lobster fishery, however it is an important conservation measure for LFA 41, which is the only offshore lobster fishery in Canada (conducted year-round).

You can be sure that by choosing a Canadian lobster you are not only eating something delicious, but the harvesting methods employed to catch the lobster are good for the environment and the future of the wild Canadian lobsters.

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