Cuts to snow crab quotas amplifies crisis facing NL fishing industry
ST. JOHN’S, NL – Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released total allowable catches (TAC) for snow crab, announcing an overall 22 per cent cut to quotas for 2017.
Sharp declines in both crab and shrimp quotas will have grave economic impacts felt in communities and towns around the province. Fish harvesters, plant workers, and entire communities are reliant on the inshore fishing industry. Without a well-managed transition period, enterprise owners face personal bankruptcy, hundreds to thousands of people face job losses, and rural communities risk future sustainability.
Like northern shrimp, the decline in snow crab stocks is not due to overfishing, rather it is a result of an environmental shift in the ocean ecosystem. As groundfish stocks rebuild, it is expected that shellfish stocks in the area will continue to decline. DFO must work more closely with harvesters and take changes to the ecosystem into consideration when managing the fishery.
“We’ve long requested that DFO take into account the entire marine ecosystem when making policy decisions. Species are not independent of each other,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is facing a pivotal moment in the fisheries. As shellfish stocks decline and groundfish stocks recover, a well-managed transition period is crucial for fish harvesters and processing plants to make that shift,” says Sullivan. “We expect a meeting with DFO Minister Dominic Leblanc in the coming days to impress upon him how these decisions are failing the people of our province.”
The FFAW’s negotiating team pushed for higher snow crab prices this year, which is welcome news to the industry. Currently, the price is before an arbitrator who will decide between the Union’s price of $4.39 and the companies’ price of $4.10. Last year’s minimum price was $3.00 per pound. Higher prices will offset some of the effects quota cuts will have on harvesters, but there is still a need for DFO to work more closely with harvesters in managing the resource.
“DFO must take into account harvesters’ experience and expertise, and work together when managing the resource. This will result in a more prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador,” adds Sullivan.
The TAC for Newfoundland and Labrador Region in 2017 is 35,419 tonnes, an overall quota level decrease of approximately 22 per cent from 2016, which includes 2 per cent reduction in 3K, 26 per cent in division 3LNO (46 per cent in the areas outside the 200 mile limit, and 23 per cent in areas inside the 200 mile limit), a 50 per cent reduction in the 3Ps quota, and a 6 per cent reduction in 4R3Pn. Quotas in 2GHJ will remain at 2016 levels. Read the full announcement here: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/decisions/fm-2017-gp/atl-02-eng.htm
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