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Déjà vu for NL Fish Harvesters: DFO Science Falls Short on Surveys, Again

November 16, 2022

November 16, 2022 – Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are expressing their concern and dismay after DFO Science communicated yesterday evening that the Fall multi-species survey will once again be incomplete this year. Underfunding coupled with dilapidated survey vessels means the multi-species surveys conducted by DFO falling short of capturing meaningful, up-to-date data on key commercial species such as Atlantic cod and snow crab.

“When there is limited up-to-date data available, DFO is unable to make informed decisions about resource management. This has profound implications for fish harvesters and their livelihoods when decisions are being made to delay fisheries development,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

“In recent years, DFO has fallen short on their obligations to conduct science surveys for several species in Newfoundland and Labrador waters. The government’s unreliability when it comes to these surveys emphasizes the importance of harvester-led science initiatives, such as the Cod Sentinel Survey or the Post-Season Crab Survey, which provide critical data to assessments and management decisions,” says Jason Spingle, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “In retrospect, the FFAW should have undertaken a Fall trawl or longline survey of our own in 2J3KL and 3Ps, and perhaps this is something that the Union will undertake in the future similar to the science work that we are already doing in the Gulf,” Spingle says.

“Fish harvesters are proud and dedicated stewards of the ocean. They participate in dozens of science projects each year with little or no financial benefit. They do it because they care about the sustainable management of commercial fisheries, and they do it because they care about ensuring our inshore fishery is here for generations to come,” Spingle explains.

In 2021, DFO did not do a fall research vessel survey in 3LNO, which could have had major implications for the snow crab fishery – the most economically important fishing area in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks to data collected by fish harvesters during the Collaborative Post-Season Survey, DFO-Science was able to provide the information needed for informed decisions in the 2022 management plan.

“Fish harvesters have more than proven their capability when it comes to carrying out many of these scientific surveys and year after year their importance becomes more apparent. Additional funding opportunities for collaborative surveys may be a solution to ensuring reliable data into the future,” Spingle concludes.


For media inquiries, please call, text or email Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications, at 709-743-4445.