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DFO’s Northern Cod Plan Overly Cautious Given Growth of Stock

June 24, 2019

Fish harvesters and plant workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are pleased with today’s announcement by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) of a modest increase in the Total Allowable Catch for the northern cod stewardship fishery to 12,350 tonnes. However, given that the stock continues to grow with the lowest harvest rates in history, FFAW-Unifor maintains that an increase to fisheries removals to 17,936 tonnes would have virtually no impact on spawning stock biomass growth, according to scientific calculations.

“2J3KL cod is the third largest cod stock in the world and has grown tremendously in the past 13 years, from 10,000 tonnes in 1995 to 398,000 tonnes this year,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “The federal government’s approach is frustrating to inshore harvesters who see the plan as overly cautious and inconsistent with the management of other stocks.”

In the 2018 fishery, harvesters experienced an unnecessarily high 25 per cent cut in quota as a result of the 2017 assessment. The decline put forward by DFO Science last year turned out to be inaccurate when the assessment for 2018 refuted the pessimistic outlook of the 2017 assessment.

Northern Cod, if managed responsibly and in collaboration with industry, has the potential to provide significant opportunity for a sustainable fishery. Modest increases in the harvest rates can simultaneously build capacity on land without having any significant impact on the growth of the stock.

“The Northern cod stewardship fishery is critically important to inshore fish harvesters and processing plant workers in Newfoundland and Labrador. With recent declines in snow crab quotas, northern cod has become vital to the inshore fishery and coastal communities,” said Sullivan. “As this stock continues to grow, DFO must collaborate with the industry to ensure the inshore is not left behind in the fishery of the future.”

DFO’s announcement available here.