Checking in on Our Canadian Lobsters
Our sourcing manager Nick Neeld visited our Canadian Lobsters suppliers to ensure our high standards are being met.
Prince Edward Island is a beautiful place that is famed for the lobsters that live in the clears seas around the island. Our supplier is located in a small town called Wellington, just a 40-minute drive from the closest large town of Summerside. It is a relatively small operation that processes Crab and Lobster products with a dedicated local workforce that have be working for the company for many years. Once I arrived at the plant I reviewed the processing operations and monitoring of the production of the cooked whole Lobsters and cooked Lobster Claws. These were all produced to the usual high standard and had a nice bright colour and a good sweet flavour of freshly cooked Lobster.
Lobster Catching Process
In Canada, lobster is harvested and processed throughout the Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) and Quebec. Landings peak twice a year, once in the period from May to June when the spring season opens, and then again in December after the winter fishery opens in southwestern Nova Scotia.
Licensed lobster fishers use small boats to fish with baited, wooden-frame or plastic-coated steel-mesh traps that are weighted and lowered to the sea bottom. The traps are hauled by ropes attached to brightly painted buoys that mark their location. Most of the lobster fishery takes place relatively close to shore (within 15 km), but there are eight vessels that fish the deep basins and outer banks off southwestern Nova Scotia. Lobsters grow by shedding their shell. After shedding, the lobster is soft-shelled and filled with the sea water it has absorbed in the process. Up to two months pass before the absorbed sea water is replaced by new lobster meat. As the shell hardens in the cold waters of the North Atlantic, the meat’s texture and taste improve and the lobster acquires a denser, fuller feel.
Atlantic Canada’s staggered fishing seasons are designed to protect summer soft shelled lobsters, which allows the industry to deliver the hard-shelled, full-meated lobster we all love. The waters of Atlantic Canada are divided into 41 Lobster Fishing Areas or LFAs, each with its own season, varying in length from eight weeks to eight months.The staggered fishing seasons system is only one of the protection methods in place to ensure the sustainability of the lobster stock. There is also a minimum and maximum lobster carapace size limit, a limited amount of traps allowed to be deployed and a set design to make sure smaller lobsters can get out of the traps safely. Finally, female lobsters bearing eggs must be released by law.
Our Canadian Scallops
Following this visit I headed down to Lockeport on the South West Coast of Nova Scotia to see our Canadian Scallop supplier, Pierce Fisheries, which is part of the Clearwater Group. The site that I was visiting was originally built in 1982 as a Cod and Haddock processing facility which closed in 1989 before being bought by Clear water and redesigned as a Scallop processing facility. The scallops are supplied either by one of the company’s own three fishing vessels or single contract boat. All the vessels and fisheries are certified by the MSC and all of the primary work like shucking and cleaning is carried out on-board. The frozen Scallops are then returned to Lockeport for grading, inspection and packing into their final packaging.
This is another very well-run operation that is dedicated to supplying sustainably caught seafood products to its customers. Check out our ‘Sourcing our Canadian Scallops’ article to learn more about it.