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Canadian CETA advantage hit by decreasing prawn catch


Canada is challenged in keeping its position as the world´s biggest catch nation for cold water prawns. Remarkable cuts in TAC (Total Allowable Catch) combined with limited access to raw material has challenged the Canadian fishermen.

Where Greenland in recent years has experienced a growing TAC (Total Allowable Catch), Canadas TAC was dramatically cut from 2015 to 2016, and again on to 2017. The TAC fluctuations reflect the biological advices in the two countries and support a sustainable fishery management. In the most important Canadian catching area with respect to volume, SFA 6 (Shrimp Fishing Area), TAC was cut by 62 percent from 2016 to 2017 down to 10,400t. In SFA 5 the TAC was cut by 14,1 percent down to 22,000t. Area four´s TAC was increased by 5 percent from 14,971t in 2016 to 15,725t in 2017 according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Greenland, on the other hand, has experienced a slight increase in prawn quotas from 85,000t in 2016 up to 90,000t in 2017 set by the Greenlandic government. Biological advice for 2018 is as high as 105,000t according to Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Remarkable drop in Canadian prawn export

In Canada, the fishery started late this year. Some fishermen were reluctant to leave shore due to cuts in their quota making the search for prawns uneconomical. The fishermen who have been out catching cold-water prawns have had difficulties finding the prawns, especially the largest sizes according to Undercurrent News.
The lack of prawn supply from Canada will continue to have a major negative impact on global supply in the coming months.

The disappointing Canadian prawn season has left the question open, whether the prawns are disappearing from the well-known fishing areas or if they have just relocated and why?

The increasing temperature of the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been identified as a potential problem for northern prawn population in the Northwest Atlantic according to Katherine Skanes, a shrimp biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Biologists speculate that the changes can be caused by climate change and advancement of other species influencing the prawn stock, e.g. Cod and Redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus).
Redfish compete with the prawns for food when they are young, and feed on them when they are older.

CETA – no influence on prices

CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, between Canada and the EU took effect provisionally on September 21st 2017. Experts had pointed out the Canadian seafood sector as major winners of the agreement.

In general it is believed that the Canadian seafood sector will be more competitive in the European prawn market and that consumers will gain access to cheaper prawns due to the CETA agreement.

Category Manager for prawns at Royal Greenland, Henrik Cordsen, does not share this view regarding prices:
“It is not my impression that the European consumers will gain access to cheaper prawns in the supermarkets due to CETA. Canadian quotas have been cut dramatically and it is a fact that these quotas will not even be caught.  We are already experiencing a lack of large and extra-large single-frozen prawns and prices are likely to increase further, as the industry will struggle to secure volumes for already committed contracts.”

Canada has not only experienced a fall in catch volume, but the catch of large prawns has been limited as well. Supply of the valuable large prawns from Greenland into the market has also been limited.

“The catch started late this year in the Disko Bay, which is where the larger prawns among others are. A great share of the offshore prawn quota has been landed, and sizes are rather small compared to previous years. Combined with the Canadian catch decline, we are likely to see a lack of supply of large prawns this season,” Henrik Cordsen explains.



Eastern & Western Assessment Zones: http://www.dfompo.

– SFA 4-6:


– The Estuary & Gulf of St. Lawrence:


– Eastern Scotian Shelf:


Greenland Institute of Natural Resources - Pinngortitaleriffik and Statistics Greenland

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