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DFO Science Lacks Respect and Consideration for Fish Harvesters

November 16, 2018

Fish harvesters are expressing their frustration with what they feel is a lack of respect and consideration from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Science branch when it comes to engagement and consultation.

“Our members participate in meetings with DFO in good faith, with the objective of building bridges and finding ways to work together,” said Keith Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor. “But the lack of consideration for fish harvesters and the erosion of shared stewardship of our fisheries underscores our belief that fish harvesters are often viewed as an afterthought by DFO.”

On Tuesday, snow crab fleet chairs from across the province attended a meeting with DFO in St. John’s to discuss snow crab science and management. Less than 24 hours after the meeting ended, when harvesters were returning home, FFAW was informed that a briefing would take place the following day on a new science report containing serious concerns for the future of the snow crab fishery. The report was not mentioned during meetings with crab harvesters the previous day.

“It seems like DFO just wants to check boxes when it comes to consultation. They have not demonstrated that they value the concerns of fish harvesters whatsoever,” said Tony Doyle, FFAW-Unifor Inshore Vice-President and crab harvester from Bay de Verde.

The snow crab fishery is facing significant challenges, with a decline in biomass. Harvesters have already experienced significant quota cuts this past year and expect a difficult year ahead. In other fisheries, DFO has limited harvester participation in stock assessments, creating further frustration for harvesters.

“Our fisheries are rapidly changing and, as a key stakeholder, fish harvesters can’t be shut out or left behind when it comes to fisheries science and management,” continued Sullivan. “As the federal government continues to invest in fisheries science, they must also prioritize robust consultation and meaningful engagement with fish harvesters. The best way forward for our industry is by working together, not by ignoring fish harvesters whose livelihoods depend on it.”


For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode at 743-4445