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Positive Outlook for Snow Crab Stock; Fish Harvesters Warn of Gaps in Science

March 1, 2022

March 1, 2022

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Science Department delivered an update today on the stock status for snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador. Overall, the assessment update this year is positive, with most areas experiencing favourable biomass increases. However, FFAW-Unifor continues to have concerns regarding incomplete surveys and the impact this may have on the integrity of DFO Science.

All snow crab areas are considered to be within the healthy zones, except for 2HJ which is projected to be in the cautious zone of the provisional Precautionary Approach (PA) Framework.

“The snow crab fishery provided approximately $900 million in value to our province last year alone. The positive outlook for the stock presented today is excellent news for the fishing industry and the tens of thousands of people who rely on it,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

“Our crab stocks are in a healthy condition, and I believe we’re managing this resource in a sustainable manner, but DFO needs to ensure assessment surveys are completed in all areas. Gaps in data could lead to bigger problems down the road if not addressed,” warns Trevor Jones, 3K fish harvester from La Scie, who participated in the assessment.

“There have been too many instances where fundamental surveys have been left incomplete by DFO. The health of our marine ecosystem and the livelihood of our members rely on accurate stock assessments,” Sullivan says.

DFO’s trawl survey was reduced by 30% in areas 2J and 3K, while in 3LNO the survey was not completed. However, with data from the expanded Collaborative Post Season (CPS) pot survey led by FFAW-Unifor, the assessment was able to track improvements in the fishable biomass in 3LNO.

The CPS survey is a massive undertaking with over 80 vessels completing over 1200 stations each year. Five years ago, crab fleet chairs, FFAW and DFO agreed to expand the CPS survey.

“The improvements noted in the 3LNO region would not have been captured if it weren’t for the work our Union has done through the CPS Trap Survey,” says Jim Chidley, elected FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council Member and fish harvester from Renews. “It highlights the important role we as fish harvesters play in science and the need for more of us at the assessment table. We are dedicated and invested in ensuring the resources we fish are managed sustainably for the future.”

Chad Strugnell is a fish harvester from St. Lewis (2J), who participated in the assessment process for the first time. One of six harvesters at the assessment table this year, Strugnell says, “Despite the poor outlook for my fishing area, overall, I’m very pleased with my first experience at the science assessment table. It’s important to have harvester voices involved in science, and I do feel our contributions at the table were valued.”

Quota allocations for the 2022 snow crab fishery will be announced by DFO Management prior to the start of the season. Fish harvesters expect increases in most fishing areas as a result of the expected reduction in fishery exploitation rates as calculated by DFO science.


Click here for the presentation document provided by DFO. 

For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode at or call/text 709-743-4445.