Skip to content

DFO Rolls Over Cod Quota, Fails to Use All Available Data for Assessment

June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023

Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced a rollover to the Maximum Allowable Harvest (MAH) for the 2J3KL Northern Cod Stewardship fishery. The rollover comes as a surprise to harvesters, who requested an increase this year in line with the health of the stock and commercial needs for both harvesting and processing. Harvesters consider Northern Cod to be one of the best fisheries for both quality and catch rates, and both harvesters and processors are looking for more product this year.

“The entire industry was hopeful for – and were depending on – an increase to the northern cod quota this year. We had provincial support for this request as well as support from our provincial MPs,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “Thousands of people rely on this fishery for their livelihood, more so this year than ever before. A small increase would go a long way, and we’re certainly dismayed that Minister Murray chose to rollover this quota rather than look at all the information available,” says Pretty.

The absence of updated RV survey data substantially decreases the data available for DFO’s assessment of Northern Cod. However, DFO-Science has not updated the existing data such as cod tagging data, catch rates and sentinel survey data.  These data provide valuable information on the trajectory of the stock in the absence of a full stock assessment.  As an example, tag return data can be used to estimate fishing mortality levels. Further, RV data was collected in 2J and 3K in 2021.

“Quite frankly, it’s alarming that DFO has failed to use all the data they have currently available to them in spite of failing to complete their RV survey the last few years. And once again, the working people of our province bear that burden,” Pretty says. “The Federal Minister must guarantee that surveys will be complete this Fall in preparation for next year’s decision, which are critically important to the future of the stock and our commercial fishery,” he says.

“Despite substantial fishing pressure during the 70’s, the stock recovered. We’re not asking for anything remotely as drastic, but a modest increase is supported by the science and it’s needed for the economy of this province,” Pretty says. “DFO’s approach is contradictory and the science is glaringly weak. Both processing workers and harvesters alike are counting on this fishery, and Minister Murray’s decision today is going to harm our communities and our inshore fishery,” Pretty concludes.

The full management plan can be read here: