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Cod management plan proposal for 2017

May 3, 2017

Click here for the NL Groundfish Industry Development Council’s 2017 Northern Cod Stewardship Fishery Management Plan Proposal.

FFAW-Unifor, as a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council (NLGIDC), has spearheaded a 2017 proposal for the northern cod fishery that will both result in a sustainable harvest and more value returned to fish harvesters, plant workers and their coastal communities. This proposal was put forward by the Council to DFO for the 2017 2J3KL cod fishery after extensive consultation on the successes of the 2016 management plan for the Stewardship Fishery. This proposal would help grow on these successes and is a one year management plan.

During 2016 the NL-GIDC proposed a management plan for a one year Stewardship Cod Fishery in areas 2J3KL.  This plan was approved by DFO in early August 2016, with a fishery start on August 15, 2016.  The elements of the 2016 NL-GIDC Plan were:

  • Extended season compared to previous stewardship fisheries
  • Weekly landing limits
  • There was no specific DFO total quota.  The NL-GIDC estimated there would be 11,000 t harvested for the season, however, with the August 15 start the total stewardship harvest was approximately 10,000 t – a very close result to our original estimate.
  • Removal of the requirement to fish in the harvesters home bay
  • Other measures included:
    • Gear restrictions (numbers of nets and hooks)
    • Small fish protocol
    • Monitoring of Landings
    • Logbook completion

This approach allowed harvesters to catch significantly more cod than in any year since the moratorium, with many harvesters landing upwards of 35,000 lbs of cod – providing significant growth and value to enterprises who had previously been limited to a 3 week, 5,000 lb fishery. It also helped spread out the harvest to levels where current processing capacity could handle landings, as well as give confidence that investment in plants and processing technologies are both needed and encouraged, and a high quality product is able to be landed over an extended period of time.

The 2017 proposal is derived from the results of post-season consultations undertaken by DFO, and builds on recommendations taken from these meetings, as well as feedback from extensive consultation with FFAW Inshore Council members, other committees and fleets, and NLGIDC members. Recommendations for 2017 include:

  • A longer season, with a May opening and December closure
  • Higher weekly landing limits in the spring and fall fisheries
  • Adjustments to limits in area 2J (Labrador) in response to seasonality and limited harvesting activity in this area
  • Incentive for higher harvesting limits in October-December for harvesters who voluntarily choose to not fish during August to mid-September, as this part of the season has generally been the time of heaviest landings. Doing so will help spread out landings to ensure attention to quality is paramount and a more consistent supply of fish can be provided to market for market confidence and greater return while avoiding gluts in plants.
  • Removal of the 12 mile limit

The plan, and the Council, continue to support advancements in quality and accessing high value markets for Newfoundland and Labrador groundfish. As a result of the successes of the 2016 plan, an increasing number of processors have come forward to both join the Council and express interest in making investments in the future of the NL groundfish industry. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador have also illustrated their dedication in providing funding opportunities to those wishing to transition to groundfish in areas such as gear advancements and quality.

The Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic LeBlanc, has committed to FFAW that the first 115,000 mt of northern cod will be allocated to the inshore owner operator fleet. Following a meeting with FFAW in April 2017, Minister LeBlanc has also committed to an annual stock assessment of northern cod beginning in 2018.

We continue to support the growth of the northern cod stock, harvesting sustainably in line with recommendations by DFO science. We also continue to ensure value from the fishery is returned to the harvesters, plant workers and coastal communities that depend on it for survival.