Cape Breton lobster size requirements increasing to feed American market

The Inverness South Fisherman's Association says its members will be fishing for slightly larger lobsters over the next two years.

Minimum carapace size increasing in lobster fishing area 26B

Minimum carapace size will increase from 81 to 81.7 millimetres for the 2018 season, and 82.5 millimetres in 2019. (AP)
The Inverness South Fishermen's Association says its members will be fishing for slightly larger lobsters over the next two years.

The association has received word that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has approved an increase in the minimum carapace size in lobster fishing area 26B, association president Jordan MacDougall said Wednesday.

LFA 26B covers the entire western coast of Cape Breton.

Specific changes

The minimum carapace size — the measurement from the back of the lobster's eye socket to the end of its body, before the tail joint — was 81 millimetres last year.

MacDougall said it will increase to 81.7 millimetres for the 2018 season, and 82.5 millimetres in 2019, which is the minimum size to allow Canadian lobsters to enter the U.S. without processing.

Fishing boats loaded with lobster traps head out from Eastern Passage, N.S., in 2012. (Canadian Press)

"Anything smaller than that, shipments will be sent back," said MacDougall. "So, when we sell our product at the wharf, the buyer, when we have a smaller size than 82.5 [millimetres], has to go through the crates and basically pick out the smaller ones and make sure the product he's sending to the States is bigger than 82.5 [millimetres]."

A spokesperson with Fisheries and Oceans Canada also confirmed the size increase.

Size increase good for fishermen, says MacDougall

MacDougall said the increase is good for both the price lobster fishermen receive and preservation of the species.

"It usually means that the people we're selling to can sell the product easier," he said. "And also, the egg production will be higher in a bigger lobster. They'll hopefully have another egg-producing season, so they'll end up having three or four eggs in their lifespan. That'll increase our catch long term."

MacDougall said the change will bring lobster fishing area 26B in line with the requirements in most other zones in the region.