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DFO Announces 15% Increase to Gulf Halibut Quota

June 13, 2019

DFO Announces 15% Increase to Gulf Halibut Quota

June 13, 2019

Yesterday evening, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the 2019 Management Plan for Atlantic halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The total allowable catch (TAC) announced for fishing area 4RST is 1492 tonnes; a 15 per cent increase from last year’s quota.

“The increase is welcome news to harvesters who have long asserted the flourishing stock warrants an increase to the harvest level. While a 15 per cent increase is certainly beneficial to harvesters, industry stakeholders are confident that a higher TAC is warranted for a stock that has experienced such unprecedented growth,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

Atlantic Halibut is an important fishery to harvesters on the southwest and west coast of our province and in recent years resource abundance and distribution have increased on an extraordinary scale. With the growing resource, participation in the fishery has expanded with more than 500 harvesters now participating in the Atlantic Halibut Sustainability Program (AHSP), which was implemented to increase value, address safety concerns, and promote sustainability.

FFAW-Unifor and our harvesting members have been at the forefront of collaborative initiatives that have garnered invaluable scientific information on the biology and distribution patterns of halibut, confirming through science what harvesters have been saying for years. Following the 2017 science assessment, Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters led the implementation of a gulf-wide post-season tagging survey throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The success of these initiatives was highlighted at the bi-annual Gulf Groundfish Advisory meeting held in Moncton on March 13 and 14 of this year. DFO Science remains very optimistic about the current and projected status of this resource, and as a result FFAW-Unifor proposed a 30% increase to the TAC for 2019. This increase was supported by other industry stakeholders in attendance at the advisory meeting.

Between 2013 and 2018, the landed value for Atlantic Halibut increased by 63% and price per pound has increased by 40% despite little increase in quota.

“As the resource continues to grow, our Union will work with harvesters as well as DFO Science and Management to ensure quota increases are in line with increases in abundance of the resource,” says Sullivan.

In 2018, the 4R3Pn Atlantic Halibut fishery was worth approximately $4 million in landed value, a number that FFAW-Unifor is working to grow in order to provide maximum benefit to fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.