Canada is a world leader in sustainable fisheries management and the Canadian lobster fishery has one of the longest histories of regulation. Many of the management measures in place today date back over a century, with the first conservation measure – protection of egg-bearing females – put in place in the early 1870s.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada works closely with the lobster fishing industry to develop plans for areas where lobster is fished (called LFA’s or Licensed Fishing Areas). The inshore lobster fishery is managed by “input control,” which means that a limit is placed on fishing efforts.
Conservation measures include:
- a limited number of licences issued, with limits on the number of traps;
- limited and staggered fishing seasons – lobster fishing is generally prohibited between July and the end of September to protect summer moults;
- protection of egg-bearing females – females bearing eggs must be released back into the environment alive to ensure the reproductive cycle continues (harvesters may voluntarily cut a small v-shaped notch in the female’s tail prior to release to ensure it will be released in the future, even when not bearing eggs);
- minimum lobster size limits – a measure to increase the likelihood that lobsters reach full adult maturity and reproduce;
- maximum lobster size limits (or a closed window size as an alternative measure) which protects large lobsters that proportionally produce more eggs;
- trap designs that allow undersized lobsters to escape and that include biodegradable escape panels to ensure traps lost at sea will not continue catching lobsters and other species;
- and ongoing monitoring and enforcement of fishing regulations and licence conditions.
The offshore lobster fishery in area 41 has many of the same conservation measures in place as well as an annual limit on the number of lobsters that may be caught, referred to as total allowable catch.
Certification and Traceability
Buyers of fish and seafood are increasingly demanding independently verifiable evidence that these products come from legal and sustainable fisheries.
Certification is a popular tool to provide evidence that fish and seafood from fisheries are being harvested in a sustainable manner. Certification is an industry-led, voluntary process and gives proof that a fishery is well managed and sustainable regardless of size, type and location. A large majority of lobster landed in Canada comes from fisheries that have been independently certified to the Marine Stewardship Council standard for sustainable and well manage fisheries.
The ability to trace fish and seafood is a growing requirement of buyers and governments. Some countries require proof that fish and seafood imports are not from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, and most certification schemes have chain of custody requirements to ensure the integrity of certified products throughout the supply chain.