Quebec Lobster: Review of the 2016 Fishing Season
Overall, the 2016 lobster fishing season was excellent in Quebec. For the fifth consecutive year, the average landed price increased, going from $5.68/lb to $6.53/lb—an increase of 15%. In terms of landed amounts, however, a decrease of 14% was recorded. The total quantity of lobster landed in the three marine sectors fell from 5,891 tons to 5,068.
Despite this decline, 2016 is still the third best year in the history of the lobster fishery in Quebec after 2015 and 2014. The value of landings was $73 million, only 1.1% less than the $73.8 million record set in 2015. And this is without factoring in that the discounts on the 2016 prices have not yet all been paid.
In the Magdalen Islands, 2016 was a difficult year for landed amounts; they dropped by 26.6% to 2,558 tons, the lowest level since 2008. Conversely, landings in the Gaspe Area reached an unprecedented level of 1,926 tons (6% increase). In terms of prices, 2016 was enviable both in the Magdalen Islands ($6.58/lb, up 13.5%) and the Gaspe Area ($6.47/lb, 17.4%).
Substantial increase in lobster catches in North America between 2001 and 2015
From a broader perspective, the North American lobster industry has seen a substantial increase in catches over the past 15 years. In total, landed amounts increased by 73% between 2001 and 2015, or an average annual growth of 4.86%. In the previous 15 years, from 1986 to 2000, catches had increased by 3.1% per year on average.
Another finding is that the Maritimes Region—by far the largest in Canada—has grown even more exceptionally. Landings have increased by 128% in 15 years. Growth in the Maritimes was consistent over the three five-year periods analyzed: 2001–2005, 2006–2010 and 2011–2015.
The same cannot be said of the Gaspe Area, which saw its catches decrease by 37% between 2001 and 2005. The Gaspe Area, however, caught up between 2006 and 2010 (28% increase), but especially between 2011 and 2015 (79% increase). In fact, throughout North America, lobster landings increased the most in the Gaspe Area during the 2011–2015 period.
Conversely, growth in the landed amounts was the lowest in the Gulf Region in the 2001–2015 period, at 45%. The Magdalen Islands (not in the graph) is doing slightly less well with an increase of 62% over the last 15 years.
Quebec, with a growth of 67% in the 2001–2015 period, is in the middle of the pack with the United States (68% increase) and the Gaspe Area (70% increase).