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Lobster prices at the wharf hit $18 a pound in Nova Scotia

There's good money in fishing lobster — if you can find them. Low catches, low inventory and strong demand are driving the price increase in lobster fishing areas from Halifax to Digby. (Brian McInnis/CBC - image credit)
There's good money in fishing lobster — if you can find them. Low catches, low inventory and strong demand are driving the price increase in lobster fishing areas from Halifax to Digby. (Brian McInnis/CBC - image credit)

Wharf prices for lobster have hit $18 dollars a pound in southwestern Nova Scotia and it's believed to be the highest price ever this early in the season.

Low catches, low inventory and strong demand are driving the price increase in lobster fishing areas from Halifax to Digby.

It's the most lucrative commercial fishery in Canada. The 2022-23 season was not a record year, but landings still totalled $450 million.

"It's surprising, I don't think anyone expected $18 a pound when the season opened," said Heather Mulock of the Coldwater Lobster Association, which represents lobster fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia.

"There were not a lot of catches and that is reflected in the price."

Consumers are not seeing the full impact — yet.

Supply depleted earlier

In Halifax, Sobeys is selling live lobster for $18.99 a pound.

Buyer Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster fears the high price could bump the crustacean off restaurant menus. Once that happens, he said, it takes time to get them back.

"We try to avoid prices that oblige our clients to not buy the product and delist. But we pushed the envelope today like we've never pushed it before," he said.

Lamont says prices several years ago briefly hit $19.50, but that was much later in the season when inventories were exhausted.

This year the supply was depleted earlier in a season marked by bad weather and colder water which makes lobster harder to catch because they don't move as much.

Landings expected to improve with weather

Both Mulock and Lamont expect landings to improve with the weather.

"Within the next week — two weeks, fishing effort will increase significantly. Water temperature presumably will not get colder and may trend a bit warmer. So all of that gravitates to more catch in the next week or two," he said.

With greater supply, prices are expected to fall off.

For now there's good money in fishing lobster — if you can find them.

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