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FFAW Meet with Minister Murray and Senior DFO Staff

March 28, 2023

Yesterday evening, March 27th, FFAW-Unifor met virtually with Minister Joyce Murray and senior DFO staff to discuss outstanding and urgent concerns for Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab, cod, and mackerel. Attending from the Minister’s office in Ottawa were: Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary; Neil MacIsaac, Chief of Staff; Elizabeth Arsenult, Director of Operations; Adam Burns, Director General Fisheries Management; Andrew Cooper, Regional Advisor for PEI and Nova Scotia; and Liam MacKinnon, Regional Advisor for Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Quebec. Mark Duggan, Director of Issues Management for the office of Minister Seamus O’Regan was also connected on the call. Representing FFAW-Unifor were President Greg Pretty, Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle, and Courtney Langille, Government Relations.

Greg Pretty began the call with thanking the Minister for the letter received on Friday March 24th that confirmed the reinstatement of the 3L clause in the Precautionary Approach (PA) for snow crab. The Minister’s prompt action in this capacity influenced an agreement secured between DFO and fleet chairs on the 27th.  However, there are outstanding concerns for quotas and management plans, with threats of continued protesting on March 28th. The contentions among harvesters are exacerbated by the collapse of the pricing formula for snow crab that was part of the amendments to sections 19.1 – 19.5 of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act (FICBA) following the review by provincial government in Fall of 2022. FFAW and ASP are now back to Final Offer Selection by the Panel, and will make their submissions this Thursday, March 30th. The Minister and staff indicated that historically, management plans have never been released in advance of the price being set, however, they did acknowledge that the impacts of any increases for 3L will be considered.

Greg Pretty then addressed trip limits and whether DFO will be imposing measures of enforcement for 2023, which was initially brought to the Minister’s attention when FFAW met with her in Boston earlier in March. Adam Burns confirmed that in subsequent discussions with William McGillivray, Regional Director General, DFO have agreed to increase monitoring of trip limits as it relates to conditions for NL licenses. The Minister assured that there is flexibility in quota under the current PA.

Spingle then segued to Northern shrimp, thanking the Minister for her decision on status quo for Area 6. Similarly, FFAW is hoping for a review of the limit reference point (LRP) for SFA 06 shrimp before the next fishing season.

On Northern (2J3KL) cod, Spingle referenced the FFAW proposals for a modest increase to at least 25,000 t highlighting the excellent 2022 fishery. In addition, he outlined the proposals for 3Ps to maintain the TAC. Finally, for Gulf (3Pn,4RS) cod even a small fishery is needed to maintain the connection between the people, their communities, and the resource.

Lastly, both the Minister and Adam Burns spoke on the department’s approach to the mackerel stock in 2023. They understand that mackerel is a broad stock that straddles provinces and countries, and aggregates when the population declines. The Minister conveyed that the department remains concerned about the phenomenon of observations by NL harvesters in 2022 while the commercial mackerel fishery was closed, and improved science modeling has not created much optimism. She cautioned that the observations are not representative of the state of the entire stock but recognizes that quality and consistency of FFAW’s collaborative science work, and our approach to fairness. Adam Burns agreed to critically consider the opportunity to work more closely with harvesters in 2J3KL to identify potential data gaps and the disconnect in science and at-sea observations.

Thank you to FFAW fleet chairs for your ongoing contributions as we continue to inform and advocate on behalf of fellow harvesters for the department to understand the gravity of their decisions and their realities on the water. We look forward to providing consistent updates to membership.