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FFAW Calls on Minister to Reconsider Mackerel Closure

September 6, 2019

Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the mackerel fishery will close as of tomorrow, September 7 at 6 pm NL time, despite calls for an extension. Last month, FFAW-Unifor called on the Minister to discuss the urgent need for a quota increase in the Atlantic Mackerel fishery to prevent a premature closure of the fishery. FFAW-Unifor is requesting that the Minister reconsider this decision and opt to re-open the fishery.

Fish harvesters participated on a call with Minister Wilkinson on August 30 and voiced their concerns regarding the mackerel fishery. The Minister committed to respond to FFAW leadership following this meeting but has not yet done so. FFAW-Unifor also met with Members of Parliament Seamus O’Regan, Ken McDonald, Gudie Hutchings, Scott Simms, and Churence Rogers.

“Despite productive meetings where we made very clear the urgent situation facing the mackerel fishery, the Minister has proceeded with closing this fishery. The Department is once again ignoring fish harvesters and discounting the signs that Atlantic mackerel is far more abundant than government assessments make it out to be,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.

Fish harvesters know that DFO science is underestimating the biomass of mackereland as a result, the TAC has been set at an unacceptably low level. Harvester observations from the past number of a years were put forward at DFO stock assessments and advisory meetings in an objective manner, yet these valuable observations have been repeatedly ignored in management decisions.

“DFO has not done the appropriate work needed to both accurately estimate the abundance and spawning components of mackerel and calculate commercial and recreational removals. As a result, our members are being shortchanged the opportunity to harvest at reasonable levels and coastal communities are losing out on millions of dollars in income,” says Sullivan.

“Taking into consideration all of the information provided to Minister Wilkinson and other members of the federal government, the Minister still has the opportunity to make the right decision here,” concludes Sullivan.