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Atlantic Halibut Quotas Unjustified, Disappointment to Harvesters

June 14, 2018

June 14, 2018

Yesterday afternoon, DFO announced the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the 2018 Atlantic Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST). The TAC will remain the same this year, despite requests by harvesters for an increase justified by recent scientific surveys. FFAW-Unifor is urging Minister Leblanc to reconsider this decision before the season opens next week.

“Atlantic halibut presents an opportunity for harvesters who are seeing declines in other resources. Harvesters in the area requested a reasonable increase to the TAC this year, yet DFO dragged their heels with a late announcement of the status quo despite strong evidence of a flourishing stock,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

In recent years, harvesters throughout the west coast of Newfoundland and right up to non-traditional areas like the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula and even the Labrador Straits have witnessed the absolute explosion of the halibut resource. After years of work led by FFAW-Unifor, a gulf-wide comprehensive post-season long-line tagging survey was completed in 2017 and the results confirmed the high abundance of the Atlantic halibut in the region.

“The union has worked with many harvesters throughout the Gulf in order to get the science DFO required.  Harvesters must now see the benefits of their efforts,” said Sullivan.

The bi-annual increases to the TAC in recent years have been ultra-conservative with catch rates and scientific surveys continuing to show unprecedented values. This year’s implementation of the status quo is not in line with the biomass estimates and must be reconsidered.

“Harvesters are being reasonable to ask for a modest increase to this year’s TAC despite an even higher increase being warranted. We urge Minister Leblanc to reconsider this decision,” said inshore harvester and FFAW Executive Board member Loomis Way.