PEI

Data shows pandemic landed blow on P.E.I. lobster fishery in 2020

P.E.I.’s lobster fishery in 2020 never quite recovered from a late start caused by the pandemic, according to preliminary numbers from the provincial government.

Season start delayed by two weeks was among factors causing decline

The lobster industry is looking to encourage more home cooking again in 2021. (Brian McInnis)

P.E.I.'s lobster fishery in 2020 never quite recovered from a late start caused by the pandemic, although sellers were able to quickly change gears to keep export sales close to 2019 values.

The P.E.I. lobster fishery had record landings in 2019, well over 40 million pounds, but landings were down 8.6 per cent in 2020, according to preliminary numbers from the provincial government.

The start of the spring season was delayed two weeks, and that was a factor in lower catches, says the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association. The season was extended four days later than normal, but catches are usually higher earlier in the season.

Some buyers also put catch limits on their fishermen, because plant processing was being slowed down by a lack of availability of temporary foreign workers. 

However, as Canadian food service demand fell in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns, exports declined just 3.6 per cent, the provincial numbers show.

The Lobster Council of Canada credits the industry adjusting quickly to the way the market changed in the pandemic, as the cruise ship industry was shut down and restaurants closed.

It focused on retail over restaurants, and e-commerce and home delivery over cruise ships and casinos.

The P.E.I. Lobster Marketing Board said its members sold more in the overall Canadian market than usual.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Laura Chapin

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