In an advisory meeting held this week at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in St. John’s, fish harvesters from the province’s south coast heard confirmation of what they have known for years; 3Ps cod stocks are declining, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) Union said in a press release.
Based on the most recent assessment, DFO science is recommending a reduced catch in 2017.
Last year the 3Ps cod quota was set at 13,000 tons. Only 7,000 tons were caught as a result of the decreased health of the stock. With a DFO science recommendation to reduce the catch for the upcoming season, it is anticipated the quota will be reduced below 7,000 tons, the union said.
“Harvesters in 3Ps have been signalling that this stock has been suffering in recent years,” said FFAW President Keith Sullivan. “Allowing the offshore to continue fishing with a quota below 10,000 tons would only intensify the economic crisis inshore harvesters are facing in this area.”
According to past practice, when the quota is set below the 10,000 ton threshold, offshore trawlers are removed from the fishery, Sullivan said. This was the case in 1997 when the fishery re-opened in the area.
“With a quota cut below the 10,000 ton threshold, the entire quota must be allocated to the inshore,” continued Sullivan. “Given the serious financial challenges facing harvesters in this area, we would expect nothing less.”
The union stated that fish harvesters on the south coast are facing severe economic challenges resulting from an unprecedented decline in fish resources. FFAW-Unifor recently submitted an enterprise retirement-income support proposal to government on behalf of harvesters. The proposal requires support from both levels of government and has already received support provincially from the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods, the FFAW said.