FFAW Meets With DFO Deputy Minister, ADM, and Senior Staff
Today, FFAW-Unifor attended an introductory meeting with the recently appointed Deputy Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Annette Gibbons. Also in attendance were Assistant Deputy Minister, Kevin Brosseau, Regional Director, William McGillvray, and Regional Director of Fisheries Management, Ray Walsh. Representing FFAW was President Greg Pretty, Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle, FFAW Executive and Inshore Council Members Tony Doyle, Nelson Bussey, and Glen Winslow, as well as Staff Representative Miranda McGrath, and Courtney Langille of Government Relations.
Following introductions, FFAW discussed DFO policies and the importance of in-depth consultations with harvesters prior to changes or implementations of new policies. FFAW explained the increasing disconnect between DFO and harvesters in recent years and reminded DFO staff that it was not always this way. The importance of ensuring that consultation processes are fair, inclusive, and consistent was emphasized. Moreover, consultations need to be hosted in person and in communities. While acknowledging that circumstances surrounding COVID led to transitioning to virtual consultations, these limitations are no longer preventing DFO from a higher level of engagement.
The importance of a significant allocation of the commercial Unit 1 redfish fishery was then discussed as a future just transition plan for the 4R shrimp fleet. FFAW reminded DFO of their own description of the redfish biomass in the Gulf as the “largest groundfish stock in Atlantic Canadian history”. 2022 was a clear indication of the impacts that we will continue to see on the Gulf shrimp stock because of the growing redfish biomass and other environmental factors. As an emerging commercial fishery, Unit 1 redfish presents an opportunity to provide economic stability instead of displacement of the 4R fleet that depend on the Gulf shrimp resource for viability. Current offshore holdings were referenced with illustration, indicating that their access is not necessary for survival, whereas the 4R fleet is.
The influence of conservationist groups on management decisions led to discussion about mackerel and northern cod, particularly factual issues with groups such as Oceana. The signs of mackerel were unprecedented in 2022 following the decision for a moratorium, and a fishery needs to be re-established. Concluding another successful fishing season, even a very moderate increase in the TAC for northern cod would help to continue to build the industry while maintaining conservation. FFAW explained that the price and quality of the resource is consistently good and favorable for markets, and an increase in TAC would provide incentive for harvesters.
FFAW committed to providing the Deputy Minister and staff with more information on northern cod as well as the 3Ps cod fishery, potential collaborative projects to address ongoing issues with RV Surveys, and MMPA implementation concerns for the Newfoundland and Labrador region. FFAW is hopeful that this is the first of many meetings that work to establish and re-establish contacts and connections at DFO, with a commitment to working cooperatively for betterment of the industry and the province.