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DFO ignores largest stakeholder, moves ahead with flawed science in northern shrimp

September 14, 2017

For immediate release.
September 14, 2017

MONTREAL, QC – FFAW-Unifor strongly objects to DFO’s decision to move forward with drafting an unachievable rebuilding plan for northern shrimp at a meeting today in Montreal. FFAW members are the largest stakeholder in the northern shrimp fishery and despite strong opposition from our Union, DFO has failed to acknowledge the scientific flaws in their approach. FFAW-Unifor fully supports the need for a rebuilding plan for this crucial resource, however the current method is unfeasible and must be rethought.

The recovery objective of the current plan sets the reference point at a time when northern cod stocks and other groundfish species were at their lowest. The marine environment is now vastly different, but this is not reflected in the reference point for northern shrimp.

“The reference point for northern shrimp is incompatible with the reference point for northern cod,” asserts FFAW-Unifor Fisheries Scientist, Dr. Erin Carruthers. “These species occupy the same marine environment – a plan for shrimp must account for the impact of cod. It would be far better to get this shrimp reference point right, then build a recovery plan to meet and exceed that target.”

Also at issue is the insistence of the corporate offshore sector to push forward with a northern shrimp rebuilding plan by October in order to meet targets that are financially, not sustainability, driven. DFO officials have acknowledged that the current reference points are inadequate, yet the Department continues to forge ahead under pressure from corporate interests.

“We will not commit to inappropriate targets,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “The current approach and timelines being pushed on management are unacceptable if we are to manage this stock in ways that honour conservation and sustainability.”

Inshore shrimp harvester Heather Starkes says, “DFO is proceeding with this plan while ignoring objections from inshore harvesters. We’re the largest stakeholder in this fishery. This is a big step backwards in the relationships that have been built between harvesters, science and management.”

The inshore northern shrimp fishery contributes to the sustainability of over a hundred of coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, employing over 2000 people directly and many more through spinoff employment opportunities.


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Courtney Glode