Crustacean Resources

In Canada, all crustacean species with significant economic value are in the order Decapoda.

The American lobster is the only species in Canadian waters and is one of Canada's most valuable crustacean resources (artwork by Kendall Morris).

In Canada, all crustacean species with significant economic value are in the order Decapoda. The decapods constitute a major portion of the dollar value of various Canadian fisheries, and in some areas, particularly in the East, the local economy is almost completely dependent on them. The American lobster (Homarus americanus) is the most valuable of these resources. Freshly caught lobster may be shipped live immediately to points in N America, Europe and Asia, or held in pounds until demand and price are more favourable. A much smaller percentage is cooked and canned.

Some areas in the Gulf of St Lawrence have special fisheries for "canner" lobsters, which are slightly smaller than the "market" sizes shipped live.

In 1993, more than 40 000 t were landed along the Atlantic coast, valued at almost $294 million - more than double the combined value of the crab and shrimp industries. On the East Coast, snow or queen crab (Chionoecetes opilio) is the most valuable crab species (almost $109 million), a distinction that goes to Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) on the West Coast (more than $17 million in 1993). In BC waters the principal commercial species is the prawn (Pandalus platyceros) which, with the smooth pink shrimp (Pandalus jordani), was worth about $11 million in 1993, considerably less than the $81 million of the northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) on the East Coast.

Because of the seasonality and unpredictable yield of the harvest fisheries, aquaculture of valuable species is an attractive prospect. Of the decapods in Canada which have aquaculture potential, the most attention has been directed at the American lobster. The technological and biological problems appear manageable, but the productivity of the harvest fishery and the high cost of rearing a lobster from egg to market size make commercial lobster culture economically unfeasible.

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