The following is a few comments and reaction from the 3PS Fishers group with regard to the announcement on November 19, 2014, Rebuilding the Atlantic Cod Stock off Southern Newfoundland.
The 3PS Fishers group feels that a plan like this has been a long time coming. The 3PS fishery was only closed for two years for moratorium and since the reopening, the stocks have been steadily rebuilding, with fishing taking place, with no real plan in place focusing on structuring and making this a viable fishery for all those involved.
This announcement of a rebuilding plan that supports a 15 per cent increase in this year’s total allowable catch of cod is certainly welcome. This year, fishermen have compared the abundance of cod in 3PS, as comparable or better than pre-moratorium days.
From our perspective, this is a start but it is not enough. We need to build to what can make a sustainable fishery for fishers.
From our perspective:
- We need to build towards at least 20,000 metric tonnes
- Ensure the processing capacity exists so fishermen can catch the fish when it is available to them
- Enabling them to get a fair market price
Let’s look at the industry from the under 65-foot boat length perspective for the past two years. Last year in 2013 and this year 2014, fishers in the under-65 fleet have struggled to find sale for their cod. There has been an abundance of cod but few buyers to buy when fishers could catch.
This year was a little better than last year, due to significant effort from the 3PS Fishers group in collaboration with the provincial government and the FFAW. The 3PS Fishers group has been lobbying to open the borders to outside buyers and ensure there is enough processing capacity available to fishermen so they can catch their fish when they want to for a fair price.
To date in 2014, the under-35 foot class has 56 per cent of its 2014 quota caught, while the 35-65 foot fleet has 71 per cent of its portion of the quota caught. The 2014 season does not end until March 31, 2015. Keep in mind this is with limited access to sale. Our concern now is that as the 3PS Fishers group works to ensure we have sale for our product next year, we will be faced with the quota being caught quickly with such an abundance of fish available to catch.
So yes we certainly support this 15 per cent increase. We are confident, given the abundance of fish currently in 3PS, we will continue to see this increase in the years to come and we do need a plan in place like this that is developed in consultation with all those mentioned in the announcement, plus more direct consultation with fishers through groups like ours.
It is about time the industry has started to try and be proactive rather than reactive. We are facing a time now where shellfish is on a decline and groundfish is soon going to be at the forefront again. We the fishermen have to be part of this planning process and we will be.
Jeff Collett, Peter Leonard, Calvin Kerrivan, Alfred Fitzpatrick, Scott Spurvey, Calvin Young, Brian Careen