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Snow Crab Assessment Update Highlights Importance of Collaborative Research with Harvesters  

February 27, 2023

February 27, 2023

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Department held the technical update for snow crab this year, with an overall positive report of the stock’s health. Today’s update highlights the value and importance of collaborative research and harvester-led science, as the snow crab update in 2023 relied entirely on data collected through trap surveys.

“Today’s snow crab update shows that collaborative surveys with industry can meaningfully inform the stock assessment process. The Post-Season Snow Crab Survey is a success story that must be modelled in other fisheries research programs, such as that of mackerel and northern shrimp,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty.

The Industry Post-Season Snow Crab Survey is a collaborative survey led by FFAW and DFO.  The Post-Season Survey began in 2003 and is a massive undertaking, with over 80 vessels completing 1250 stations each year. Six years ago, crab fleet chairs, FFAW and DFO agreed to expand the survey. Data from the expanded survey meant that stock health could be assessed even without DFO’s multi-species survey.

“The Post-Season Snow Crab Survey, which is carried out by harvesters, made a real difference for our fleet.  For two years in a row now, DFO would not have had the information needed for the stock assessment if it weren’t for harvesters and our Union taking the initiative and building an important data series. This means we could fill the gaps left by DFO Science when their surveys are incomplete or just not done,” says Port de Grave crab harvester and FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member, Nelson Bussey.

Snow crab committees will review assessment results as part of the advisory process and recommendations will be forwarded to government prior to management decisions being made.

“The snow crab resource in Newfoundland and Labrador is healthy and abundant. We’re going to be working extremely hard to make sure the 2023 snow crab fishery is a success for fish harvesters and plant workers in our province,” Pretty concludes.


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