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Scotian Shelf shrimp fishery braces for another cut

Cuts are expected when the 2024 shrimp quota is announced in the coming weeks.  (Submitted by  Ethan Barnaby - image credit)
Cuts are expected when the 2024 shrimp quota is announced in the coming weeks. (Submitted by Ethan Barnaby - image credit)

For a third straight year, the shrimp fishery off eastern Nova Scotia is facing a big quota cut with ocean conditions to blame.

And that's bad news for the seventy people who work at the Northsyde Processing plant owned by Louisbourg Seafoods in North Sydney, Cape Breton, where the catch is peeled and cooked.

"It's significant for us and we're quite worried about the impact on the employees here. It's going to mean the employment opportunities are going to be significantly less," said manager Allan MacLean.

The recent scientific assessment for northern shrimp on the eastern Scotian Shelf showed environmental factors  — including warmer ocean water due to climate change — are contributing to the poor condition of the stock, he says.

And the response, he predicts, will be a reduction in the total allowable catch.

Allan MacLean, senior operations manager of Louisbourg Seafoods, is anticipating a reduction in the total allowable catch when the 2024 shrimp quota is announced.
Allan MacLean, senior operations manager of Louisbourg Seafoods, is anticipating a reduction in the total allowable catch when the 2024 shrimp quota is announced.

Allan MacLean, senior operations manager of Louisbourg Seafoods, is anticipating a reduction in the total allowable catch when the 2024 shrimp quota is announced. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is expected to announce the 2024 shrimp quota in several weeks.

"Every indication ... was that it's going to be substantial and would not surprise me if it's over 50 per cent."

Fisheries and Oceans cut the 2023 eastern Scotian Shelf quota by 25 per cent last year to 1,728 tonnes after a 12 per cent cut the year before.

DFO has issued 28 Maritimes region licences in the fishery, mostly for vessels less than 65 feet (20 metres) in length.

Ocean monitoring by DFO has shown consistently warming ocean temperatures throughout the water column on the Scotian Shelf.

It has been blamed for poor catches of snow crab on the Scotian Shelf south of Halifax.

MacLean is casting a nervous eye a bit further south .

"We're starting to see similar things that happened in the Gulf of Maine. Warmer temperatures, poor recruitment," he said.

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