- Certifier :
- SAI Global
- Certified status :
- Certified since :
- 16 Apr 2013
- Certificate expires :
- 20 Aug 2023
The Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery was certified in 2013. It was the 200th fishery to be MSC certified and is both the province's highest value fishery and one of Canada's most valuable.
The fishery operates in four areas and uses baited conical crab traps. Harvesting starts in the early spring depending on the area and fishing season. Weather and the presence of ice is a large factor affecting the start of the season, which is timed to avoid the mating period and reduce the catch of soft shell crab.
Snow crabs generally inhabit regions of very cold water (-1° to 5° C) and unlike some crustaceans, they exhibit a "terminal moult" - they cease to shed their shells when they reach maturity. This terminal moult occurs when the crabs are between 40 mm and about 75 mm carapace (shell) width, or CW. Female crabs generally do not achieve the minimum legal catch size of 95 mm CW, so the fishery's catch is effectively male-only. Male snow crabs take 5-10 years to grow to commercial size.
Traps feature twine mesh, regulated to a minimum size of 5 ¼ inches to select male crabs greater than or equal to 95 mm CW. Smaller snow crabs are able to escape through the twine mesh.