‘The proof is in the pud­ding now’

With strong shrimp catches through­out May, har­vesters and union rep are call­ing for pol­icy change

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY KYLE GREENHAM NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA, N.L. kyle.greenham@north­ern­pen.ca

Shrimp har­vesters across area 5-12 of the 4R zone are still see­ing phe­nom­e­nal catch rates.

Many fish­er­men, in­clud­ing Jaosn Spence of Port au Choix, are now ex­pect­ing to have their quo­tas caught by the end of May.

“I got 314,000 pounds of shrimp to catch and I’m go­ing to have that caught in four weeks,” said Spence. “That’s not some­thing we’ve seen in six or seven years.”

As re­ported in an ini­tial North­ern Pen story, Anchor Point har­vester Roland Genge and oth­ers credit this suc­cess to a pol­icy estab­lished by the fish­ers in the 4R re­gion to not catch shrimp in April – de­spite the Depart­ment of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) pol­icy to open the fish­ery on April 1.

“We don’t want to fish in April when our shrimp is loaded with spawn, when we’d be haul­ing up those fe­male shrimp and our fu­ture is stuck on their bel­lies,” said Genge. “Now these are the best catch rate seen in our life­time; we’re show­ing the per­fect ex­am­ple of how to run this fish­ery and it’s work­ing.”

Shawn Demp­ster of Anchor Point had his quota re­duced from 302,000 to 257,000 pounds this year. He ex­pects to have the quota com­pletely caught within his next two trips, and he says many har­vesters in the area have al­ready got­ten their quo­tas com­pletely caught.

“It’s been a re­ally good year so far, great catch rates and great sizes,” Demp­ster said.

Genge says har­vesters have lob­bied DFO for some time to of­fi­cially keep the fish­ery shut­down in April but to no avail. He hopes that the pic­tures and log books that will re­sult from this year’s shrimp fish­ery in 4R will put some se­ri­ous pres­sure to­wards a pol­icy change.

“They’ve got to lis­ten to the in­put of fish­er­men who’ve put their lives into this,” he said.

Spence agrees that the strong catch rates now seen shows vin­di­ca­tion and value in the pol­icy they are propos­ing. As well, Spence hopes that fu­ture DFO stud­ies on shrimp biomass will be done in the spring when the shrimp are more abun­dant and not in late sum­mer or au­tumn.

“We’ve been telling them we don’t want this fish­ery opened un­til May 1 and they won’t do it,” said Spence. “Now we’ve up­held this pol­icy our­selves and got an abun­dance of shrimp all over the grounds here.

“So some­one needs to be held ac­count­able.”

The Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers Union rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the re­gion, Jason Spin­gle, says news of these catches are ex­tremely pos­i­tive. He feels con­fi­dent that when shrimp pol­icy is dis­cussed with the DFO this up­com­ing win­ter, there is go­ing to be an of­fi­cial pol­icy change to be­gin the shrimp sea­son in May from here on out.

“It’s re­ally good, and even bet­ter than some fish­er­men thought it was go­ing to be. Some boats have moved out fur­ther west on grounds that were usu­ally not so pro­lific and found even bet­ter fish­ing,” Spin­gle said. “It’s been frus­trat­ing that we got har­vesters say­ing things that are pos­i­tive for con­ser­va­tion and the depart­ment has chal­lenged and ig­nored it.

“But the proof is in the pud­ding now. I’m con­fi­dent that given the de­vel­op­ments this year the depart­ment will sup­port a new pol­icy for mov­ing the sea­son ahead.”

DFO stated in an emailed re­sponse that they’ve heard re­ports of the suc­cess­ful catches rates in some ar­eas of 4R. The depart­ment en­cour­ages har­vesters to bring their ideas for con­ser­va­tion and sus­tain­able fisheries to them through for­mal and in­for­mal con­sul­ta­tions.

As these suc­cess­ful catch rates have re­mained strong through­out the month and grounds the 4R har­vesters cover, Genge says this is a good sign for a re­bound­ing and sus­tain­able shrimp fish­ery. He hopes gov­ern­ment will take strong no­tice to the events in the 4R zone this year.

“All we want is sta­bil­ity, a de­cent liv­ing and a fu­ture for our com­mu­ni­ties,” Genge said. “This liveli­hood was handed down to me from my fa­ther, and he fished with his fa­ther, and now my son Travis fishes with me. I’d like to hand this down to my son, and with proper man­age­ment this is a re­new­able re­source that can be here for eter­nity.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

A photo sub­mit­ted by Port au Choix shrimp har­vester Jason Spence, show­ing the plen­ti­ful catch his en­ter­prise has had through­out the month of May. He ex­pects to have caught his 314,000 pound quota in a mat­ter of four weeks, some­thing Spence has not seen...

Roland Genge and his son Travis Genge (pic­tured) ex­pe­ri­enced some of the best catch rates for shrimp they ever seen this spring. Roland cred­its this catch rate to a mora­to­rium on April har­vest­ing estab­lished by har­vesters in the 4R zone, ar­eas 5-12.

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