Snow Crab Fishery in DFO’s Gulf Region – Quick Facts

Snow Crab Fishery in DFO’s Gulf Region – Quick Facts. See details below

6 Distinctive Features

This crustacean is known for its tender and delicate meat, but there’s more to the story

  1. The fishery is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council
  2. It employs more than one thousand people
  3. Snow crabs are harvested on more than 400 boats
  4. Managed in collaboration with the industry
  5. It includes Indigenous Communities
  6. The fishery management is science-based (Please read the Science Advisory Report Summary for more info)


The snow crab fishery is the second largest in the Gulf Region, after the lobster fishery.

Last year, 15,509 metric tonnes of snow crab were harvested, for a total value of $129 M.

New Brunswick’s landings had a value of $78.3 million, Nova Scotia’s (Gulf Region), $36.5 million and Prince-Edward-Island’s, $14.2 million.

NB: Calculations are based on the landings site, i.e. wharves located in the Gulf Region. The place of residence of license owners and the location at sea where the crab is fished are not taken into consideration.

In 2015, 26% of the $463 M landed value of all commercial fisheries in the in Gulf Region was attributable to snow crab landings even though snow crab only accounted for 23% of the 88,700 metric tonnes of fish and crustaceans landed in the Region.

2016 Exports

The total value of Snow crab exports for NB, NS and PEI was $280 million in 2016.

Snow crab is mainly exported. In 2016, 83% of NB, NS and PEI catches were exported to the USA for a total worth $233 million.

Twelve per cent of Snow crabs were exported to Japan, 3% to China, 2% to VietNam, and 1% to other countries.

Source: Statistics Canada. Data on exports include the entire NB, PEI and NS snow crab fishery. Data specific to the Gulf Region are not provided.

Sustainable Management

The role of fishery management is to ensure the conservation of stock, to preserve the ecosystem, and to carry forward the benefits of the fishery for future generations.

Management measures include the TAC (Total Allowable Catch), which is divided into individual quotas. Limited fishery seasons; restrictions on the number of traps and mesh size; mandatory release of female crabs and catches that are under the minimum legal carapace size; and temporary closure of areas to prevent excessive fishing of soft crab are also in place. Please read the Snow Crab Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for more info.

The Gulf Region Snow crab fishery was certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2012. The industry adheres to the following principles:

  1. Fishing must be at a level which ensures it can continue indefinitely
  2. Fishing operations must be managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem
  3. The fishery must comply with relevant laws and have a management system that is responsive to changing circumstances