Unions speak out after DFO cut to north­ern cod.

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page -

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s man­age­ment plan for this year’s north­ern cod stew­ard­ship fish­ery is be­ing blasted by the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW-Uni­for) union.

The De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) re­leased the plan for the fish­ery on Tues­day, June 12, set­ting the quota at 9,500 tonnes, down 25 per cent from last year.

The de­ci­sion comes de­spite the fact the most re­cent stock as­sess­ment showed the stew­ard­ship fish­ery had no im­pact on the stock’s tra­jec­tory, ac­cord­ing to FFAW-Uni­for.

“This de­ci­sion ig­nores so­cioe­co­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions for hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ties in our prov­ince and the thou­sands of peo­ple who rely on coastal re­sources,” FFAW-Uni­for pres­i­dent Keith Sul­li­van said in a re­lease.

“It also runs counter to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s own pro­posed amend­ments to the Fish­eries Act, which ex­plic­itly add the need for so­cio-eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions in fish­eries man­age­ment de­ci­sion­mak­ing.”

The in­shore north­ern cod stew­ard­ship fish­ery is sus­tain­ably fished, ac­cord­ing to FFAWUni­for, with a har­vest rate of less than three per cent.

FFAW-Uni­for pointed out in its re­lease the 2018 stock as­sess­ment in­di­cated that fish­ing mor­tal­ity rates in the most re­cent years are among the low­est lev­els ob­served in the 35-year time se­ries for the re­source and would not im­pede stock re­build­ing.

Nat­u­ral mor­tal­ity rates, mean­while, are said to be at a high level. The union sug­gested more re­search must be com­pleted to un­der­stand why.

“As north­ern cod re­builds, very mod­est in­creases in the stew­ard­ship fish­ery can si­mul­ta­ne­ously build ca­pac­ity on land with­out hav­ing any sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the tra­jec­tory of the stock,” Sul­li­van said.

“As it stands, this man­age­ment plan will leave the in­shore har­vesters and coastal com­mu­ni­ties shut out of the fish­ery of the fu­ture.”

The Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Sea Har­vesters of New­found­land and Labrador (FISH-NL), mean­while, ex­pressed its dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic LeBlanc in light of the north­ern cod man­age­ment plan, call­ing for him to re­sign due to his poor han­dling of prob­lems in the fish­ery.

“Twenty-six years after the north­ern cod mora­to­rium and the fed­eral min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Oceans still isn’t pre­pared to lead and do what needs to be done,” FISH-NL pres­i­dent Ryan Cleary said in a re­lease is­sued by his or­ga­ni­za­tion on June 13.

DFO’s sci­en­tists said ear­lier this year that the north­ern cod stock had de­clined about 30 per cent from 2017-2018. Not only does the stock re­main in the crit­i­cal zone, but has suf­fered fur­ther de­cline that’s likely to con­tinue through 2019 — even with zero fish­ing ef­fort, FISH-NL in­di­cated.

In mid-April, the group called on Ot­tawa to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion on north­ern cod.

They sug­gested in­tro­duc­ing a freeze on all sched­uled off­shore seis­mic ac­tiv­ity off the prov­ince’s east coast, sup­port­ing the tak­ing of the en­tire seal quota, the in­tro­duc­tion of tags in the food fish­ery, and the or­der­ing of an in­de­pen­dent re­view of fed­eral fish­eries man­age­ment in the New­found­land and Labrador re­gion.

None of the rec­om­men­da­tions have been im­ple­mented, how­ever, FISH-NL ac­knowl­edged.

“LeBlanc is blam­ing har­vesters and har­vesters alone for the de­cline in north­ern cod when his own sci­en­tists say that’s not the case, and our seven MPs are just as bad for let­ting the min­is­ter get away with it.”

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