ASK A FISHERMAN
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
I just ate the lobster you caught; it was wonderful. I was wondering if my lobster was caught June 11th of this year why did I just purchase the lobster in September? Thanks!
-Lana from Ottawa, Ontario
First let me apologize for this late reply to your question – but the reason for taking so long is part of the answer. You see, our lobster season in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, lasts from May 15 to July 15, and traditionally, when its over, we don’t think a lot about where our lobsters end up. Before Thisfish, I had no way of knowing where and when my catch was being sold: so thanks for helping me find that out, and for reminding me to pay more attention.
As I mentioned, our fishery is a spring season that lasts only two months, but we all hope that people like our lobsters well enough to eat them throughout the year. To supply that year-round market, lobster buyers and wholesalers have developed ways to hold live lobsters. These facilities have varied over the years, beginning with tidal pools, where lobsters were held in wooden crates inside wood-lined “ponds” adjacent to the ocean, that relied on tidal flow to provide clean water, oxygen and food to the animals contained within.
These days, lobsters are kept in “tank houses” where large tanks hold lobsters in dark, cool conditions with water from the ocean circulated to keep them in good shape. I’m not sure how long lobsters are held in this way, but the large investment involved means that the operators keep a close eye on both holding conditions and lobster quality.
Finally, for long-term storage, some fish companies have developed an approach where lobsters are placed in individual compartments, at temperatures cool enough to mimic winter ocean conditions. This has proven out very well, and I believe work is underway to perfect the same technology in shipping containers, meaning healthy, high quality lobsters can be efficiently marketed around the world.
The last thing I should add – and perhaps you already know – is that other lobster seasons are open around Atlantic Canada throughout most of the year, so it is technically possible to get fresh-caught lobsters almost anytime. The reason why your store chose to carry lobsters from our area might relate to the taste, or the size range available, or perhaps because he had found a dependable supplier of quality seafood, and trusted that lobsters from that supplier would be equally good. It sounds like they were, and I’d like to say thanks for supporting us, and for asking about where your supper came from.
Capt. Kevin Squires