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DFO Proposes Unwarranted Cuts to 3K Snow Crab

March 6, 2019

A meeting held by DFO this week has left fish harvesters with serious concerns regarding the upcoming snow crab fishery. Harvesters were shocked to hear DFO suggest cuts of up to 30% for the 3K fishing area, despite a relatively positive stock assessment update last month.

Fish harvesters in the area have already experienced cuts of over 50% and have taken important steps to protect the health of the stock, including voluntarily taking a 40% reduction in area 3BC.

“We have seen steady increases to our catch rates over the past number of years and no evidence to indicate further cuts need to be made to our quota. Our proposal for the status quo was very conservative even though the assessment suggested some areas could even warrant an increase,” says Glen Newbury, chair of 3C Snow Crab Committee.

DFO’s suggestion of a 30%-plus cut in 3K is extreme and inconsistent with what was outlined at the stock assessment. The Department has shown a severe lack of respect towards harvesters’ knowledge, input and expertise when it comes to fisheries science and management. Rather than taking a shared stewardship approach to science and management of the fishery, DFO has treated harvesters as an afterthought.

“DFO is not taking into consideration the economic impact this fishery has for harvesters, plant workers and our communities. The radical cuts proposed by DFO are not warranted by science and don’t support a sustainable fishery,” said Rick Kean, chair of the 3K Offshore Crab Committee.

Fish harvesters in our province support a sustainable fishery and sound science-based fisheries management, but DFO has ignored unanimous industry disapproval of a proposed precautionary approach and included it in this year’s stock assessment update. While DFO Resource Management assured FFAW-Unifor that the unapproved PA will not be considered in management decisions for the 2019 snow crab fishery, harvesters have been unequivocal in demands that any future management regime must be developed with harvesters.

FFAW-Unifor has repeatedly expressed concerns over DFO’s recent approach to raising issues at meetings simply to tick a box for consultation without engaging in vigorous discussion over important issues.

“Fish harvesters have incredible knowledge of the species they fish and must be respected partners in order to build a truly sustainable snow crab fishery. FFAW-Unifor will not allow harvesters voices to be ignored when it comes to fisheries science and management decisions,” says FFAW-Unifor President, Keith Sullivan.

DFO has agreed to meet with FFAW crab fleet leadership and we will provide an update for members when available.