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COVID-19: Lobster fishery temporary shutdown proposed by buyers for LFAs 33 and 34 due to 'collapse' of markets

The scene at the Pinkney's Point wharf in Yarmouth County prior to the start of the 2019-2020 LFA 34 season start in late November. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
The scene at the Pinkney's Point wharf in Yarmouth County prior to the start of the 2019-2020 LFA 34 season start in late November. TINA COMEAU PHOTO - Tina Comeau

YARMOUTH, N.S. — The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance is proposing the lobster fishery in Lobster Fishing Areas (LFA) 33 and 34 be shut down immediately on a temporary basis due to the collapse in the marketplace because of COVID-19.

“I am trying to connect with the fishing organizations and DFO to see if we can meet to discuss the current situation and work together on a possible solution,” said Alliance executive director Leo Muise on Friday morning, March 13. “Nothing set up yet.”

LFA 33 spans the province's south shore. LFA 34 takes in southwest Nova Scotia. These two LFAs make up the province's largest lobster fishery, and also the largest lobster fishery in the country.

A memo posted to Facebook on Thursday, March 12, outlined the results of an emergency conference call held earlier that day by the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance to discuss the unprecedented market situation.

“Over 75 companies participated in the conversation and agreed all lobster harvesters in LFA 33 and 34 should immediately stop fishing and that a variation order be issued by DFO,” stated the memo. “The current reality is that more lobsters have been harvested during the most recent production cycle than the industry can absorb and market generally and particularly so under the unique circumstances of an international health crisis. The collapse of a variety of markets in the Pacific Rim, Europe and now North America make the challenge monumental as of today and for the short term future at least.”

The correspondence says the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance suggests that a variation order be temporary "while economic, trade and logistics circumstances are evaluated worldwide on a continious basis" by a committee of representative stakeholders. 

Muise said Friday the Alliance is “asking for a temporary closure of two to three weeks with a review every three or four days to see if and when the market improves. In the meantime, it’s business as usual.”

When asked about the other LFAs that are open this time of year, Muise said LFA 41 is Clearwater and they can open or close when they want because its quota managed. LFAs 36, 37 and 38 are on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy and are “really not our concern.”

 LFA 35, which includes Digby was not mentioned. Muise said he had "no idea" why it wasn't included. 

There are around 1,660 lobster licences in LFAs 33 and 34 combined. The fishery does slow down in January, February and March due to weather. The LFA 33 and 34 fishery runs to May 31. 



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