Snow crab quota jumps 30% for 2022 season

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray announced Thursday the total allowable catch for snow crab will increase to 50,470 tonnes — a 32 per cent increase from 2021.

Price expected to be decided Monday

A net of snow crab being hauled from the ocean.
The provincial snow crab quota is jumping 30 per cent for the 2022 season. (Fish, Food & Allied Workers)

The quota for Newfoundland and Labrador's snow crab fishery is increasing by over 30 per cent for the 2022 season, adding to momentum in the province's most lucrative fishery.

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray announced Thursday the total allowable catch for snow crab will increase to 50,470 tonnes, a 32 per cent increase from last year's quota of 38,186 tonnes.

"The fish and seafood sector is incredibly important to Newfoundland and Labrador, and all of Atlantic Canada. I am committed to helping it grow for future generations," Murray said in a news release.

Murray said the management approach of the fishery is aimed at balancing economic growth in coastal communities and the fishery with regenerating the snow crab population.

While a price for snow crab has yet to be decided, a decision is expected by Monday. The Association of Seafood Producers has asked for a price of $7.60 per pound, while the Fish, Food & Allied Workers union has asked for $9.05 per pound.

The province's crab fishery saw growth in 2021 after years of decline and uncertainty, with landed value of $612 million in the first 11 months of the year, an increase of 174 per cent over all of 2020.

But the quota increase isn't universal across the province. One area, Labrador's 2J zone, will see a 28 per cent cut to its quota. In a media release Thursday afternoon, Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut community council, said the cut adds to the "dire situation in the Indigenous fishery in NunatuKavut." 

Cost of business also going up

For fishermen like Aaron Ferriera, the quota increase is welcome news.

"For a lot of fishermen, crab season is the only thing they fish all year-round, especially now with the price of everything skyrocketing. It's a good thing for sure," he said.

And the cost of doing business is going up.

With the high cost of diesel, Glen Winslow, who fishes out of St. John's, welcomes the increased quota. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Glen Winslow, a member of the FFAW's inshore fishing council who fishes out of St. John's, says his fuel costs will be double or triple what they were last year due to the high price of diesel.

"We buys a lot of fuel," Winslow said. "If it keeps going the way it done, it actually could be three times the cost for fuel this year."

The price of diesel rose 2.7 cents per litre on the island and 6.7 cents in Labrador on Thursday. A litre of fuel costs $2.34 per litre on the Avalon Peninsula.

Winslow said he believes the province's product is superior to other markets' offerings, and should fetch a higher price.

"Whatever the market price is today is what the price should be based on. I believe the product that we're bringing in dictates that price, and I don't think Newfoundlanders should be selling their product any cheaper than that."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Patrick Butler