Hope doesn’t float

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - OPINION | LETTERS -

I write in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle, “Twill­ingate fish­er­man con­cerned about pro­posed changes to crab stock clas­si­fi­ca­tion” by Adam Randell that ap­peared in the Dec. 4th on­line edi­tion of The Tele­gram.

I agree the pro­posed pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach for snow crab man­age­ment is a step, only more a lat­eral one, and given the state of a mul­ti­tude of com­mer­cial species in­clud­ing snow crab, DFO man­age­ment and sci­ence are in des­per­ate need of a gi­gan­tic leap for­ward.

Fish­eries man­age­ment strate­gies should no longer look at species in­di­vid­u­ally, but col­lec­tively through an ecosys­tem ap­proach, and the in­tro­duc­tion of the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach for snow crab does not take into ac­count the ham­mer-like im­pact of a mas­sive harp seal pop­u­la­tion or seis­mic test­ing.

Af­ter 26 years of mora­to­ria and mis­man­age­ment, New­found­land and Labrador’s in­shore har­vesters de­serve no less.

DFO sci­en­tist Dar­rell Mul­lowney ac­knowl­edged as much re­cently dur­ing a se­ries of pub­lic meet­ings on the pro­posed pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach for snow crab.

Mul­lowney also ac­knowl­edged that a work­ing group on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach was struck in 2012, and in­cluded a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ffawu­ni­for. Mean­time, the union came out swing­ing against the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach, say­ing har­vesters were blind­sided, with no idea it was com­ing down.

But if the FFAW knew about it for six years, why didn’t the union in­form its mem­bers?

De­spite the fact that in­shore har­vesters were unan­i­mously against the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach for snow crab, DFO’S An­nette Rum­bolt said there are plans in the New Year to form an­other work­ing group to push the plan for­ward.

Same old, same old. When DFO both­ers to con­sult, it’s af­ter de­ci­sions have been made.

In re­sponse to the big­gest con­cern ex­pressed by in­shore har­vesters — that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach will mean a cut to the snow crab quota — Rum­bolt said “even though there may be re­duc­tions ini­tially hope­fully it could turn around and we could be de­vel­op­ing a larger biomass in the long run.”

Af­ter decades of (mis)man­ag­ing the New­found­land and Labrador fish­eries, DFO bu­reau­crats have yet to learn the life-and-death les­son that fish­er­men can­not live on hope alone

Ryan Cleary, Pres­i­dent, FISH-NL

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