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Canada Approves Harvesting of Japanese Turbot Quota in Canadian Waters

February 2, 2019

Last week FFAW-Unifor learned that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has approved a deal negotiated by the Atlantic Groundfish Council (formerly known as GEAC) and the Japanese Overseas Fishing Association that will result in the fishing of Japanese Turbot quota within Canadian waters. The approval of this quota transfer between the Atlantic Groundfish Council and Japan is irresponsible and negatively affects thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters.

“Inshore harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador cannot accept the harvesting of foreign quota inside Canada’s 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” said Keith Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor.   “This decision sets a precedent that allows foreign fleets to find the backdoor into Canada’s jurisdiction, where adjacent inshore harvesters have continually had fishing rights and opportunities removed.”

The agreement includes the transfer of 288 tons of 3LN Redfish from Canada to Japan and the transfer of 50 tons of 3M Redfish, 450 tons of 3LNO Yellowtail and 217 tons of 3LN Redfish to Japan in exchange for 150 tons of 3LMNO Turbot from Japan.

There is little to no information available regarding the details of the deal with the Japanese Offshore Fishing Organization as inshore harvesters were not given any consideration in this transfer.  What is clear is that more transparent guidelines and processes regarding transfers of Canadian quota for NAFO-managed species must be adopted.  Transfers must be negotiated on a country-to-country basis, as was historically the case.  These adjacent fish resources are public resources and private companies should not dictate the terms of deals with foreign, private business.

This deal exacerbates the frustration felt by inshore harvesters who are permitted to harvest less than 20 per cent of the turbot resource despite the fact that 80 per cent of the resource is in Canadian waters. Foreign countries harvest the remainder.

“Fixing the inequity in access to fish resources within Canadian waters should be the focus for the Canadian government, rather than rubber-stamping deals made by private companies that allow foreign quota to be taken on the same grounds where inshore harvesters try to make a living,” continued Sullivan. “This quota transfer must be reconsidered and a more transparent process for quota transfer between countries must be adopted.”


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