Montreal

Snow crab fishing in Gulf of St. Lawrence postponed due to COVID-19 crisis

The federal minister of fisheries is pushing back the snow crab fishing season in eastern Quebec to April 24 in Zone 12, and to May 1 in zones 12C, 15, 16 and 16A.

Federal government pushes back season to protect fishermen and communities from coronavirus spread

The snow crab season in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been postponed, following discussions between the federal government and the fishing industry. (Submitted by FFAW)

The federal government is postponing the crab-fishing season in eastern Quebec, following consultations with industry partners over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will delay the opening of the 2020 season in Zone 12, around the Magdalen Islands, to April 24.

Fishing elsewhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in zones 12C, 15, 16 and 16A, will be delayed until May 1.

Snow crab fishermen said the close living quarters in coastal fishing towns would make it impossible to follow public health directives.

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, who has been meeting industry representatives over the past few days, said delaying the season will allow fishermen and fish plants to put in place measures to ensure that "when the fishery does open, workers are protected."

"We have been working diligently with member associations, processors, and harvesters across the country to determine what our industry partners need in order to have a safe fishing season," Jordan said in an email statement to CBC.

The crab industry has taken a series of hits recently.

Crab quotas for 2020 in Quebec went down by 25 per cent in certain zones, compared to 2019. 

There have also been restrictions put in place by the federal government to protect the movement of North Atlantic right whales.

Jordan said any changes or delays to the 2020 season won't interfere with the government's goal of reducing ships' interactions with North Atlantic right whales during their migration season.

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