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May 8, 2024

On Monday May 6th, FFAW-Unifor met with William McGillivray, DFO Regional Director General for NL; Ray Walsh, Regional Director, DFO Fisheries Management; Adam Burns, Associate Deputy Minister, DFO Program Policy, Fisheries and Harbour Management; and Jennifer Buie, Director General, DFO National Programs, Fisheries Resource Management. Attending from FFAW were Jason Spingle, Secretary-Treasurer; Dr. Erin Carruthers, Fisheries Scientist; Sherry Glynn, 3K Member Representative; Miranda Butler, 3L Member Representative; and Courtney Langille, Communications and Government Relations.

The meeting was focused on concerns for the delayed opening of Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6, and the longstanding commitment from the federal government of the first 115,000 mt of 2J3KL Northern cod being allocated only to the inshore owner-operator fishery and Indigenous groups. Separate correspondence to Minister Lebouthillier requesting a meeting for appropriate discussion were issued in March and April, and neither have received response.  


Beginning with concerns for the delayed opening of SFA 6, FFAW referenced the letter issued jointly with the Association of Seafood Producers on April 24, 2024, that requested an immediate opening of the fishery. FFAW representatives explained there are better catch rates and better yields in the Spring, and the stock is stable, showing a modest increase over the past three to five survey years. With both the assessment and advisory completed, there is no reason for the delay, particularly as the snow crab fishery starts to end in the next few weeks and more will want to pursue shrimp because the timing is ideal. For harvesters in 4R, access to Area 6 is crucial given the dramatic quota cuts in the Gulf.

DFO Representatives refused to provide a hard deadline for Northern shrimp opening but alluded to an end of May target. Burns noted July 3 as the regulatory deadline, however, FFAW was clear that members cannot accept this mid-summer opening and an earlier opening.  


The discussion then moved to Northern cod, with FFAW describing it as a fundamental stock for Newfoundland and Labrador for the economic sustainability of the inshore owner-operator fleet. FFAW emphasized the need for the current Minister to uphold the longstanding, historical commitment of the first one-hundred and fifteen thousand metric tonnes to inshore and Indigenous groups before any allocations are given to the offshore.

FFAW reiterated the need for the federal government to uphold this commitment directly with Minister Lebouthillier during an in-person meeting on January 15, 2024. However, no engagement has been received from the Minister on subsequent correspondence and meeting requests.

FFAW emphasized that this is an over 40-year commitment that speaks to the Department’s recognition that the inshore sector in this province has a reliance upon and a commitment to the Northern cod fishery. As a key stakeholder, dedicated discussion must be facilitated between the Minister and the FFAW to review this year’s proposal for the Northern cod stewardship fishery.


Since the stewardship fishery began in 2006, inshore harvesters have been and continue to be stewards of the Northern cod resource, taking care to grow the stock out of the critical zone and into the cautious zone and contributing significantly to data collection efforts. Very positive signs have been demonstrated in catch rates and quality, but a level of protection is needed to safeguard the ongoing rebuilding of the stock. Now is not the time to reintroduce offshore draggers and we should never again allow a winter fishery on spawning and pre-spawning aggregations.

Moreover, the Union reemphasized the need for additional measures in the recreational fishery to ensure accurate monitoring of removals.


FFAW raised concerns with the timing of last year’s RV survey and the impact this had on assessment results, leading to an underestimate of stock abundance.

Given that fish migrate from inshore areas from October through to December, an earlier survey means that more fish were missed. This would drive down the estimate of the stock status and would increase estimates of natural mortality.


The meeting concluded with FFAW stressing the importance of a dedicated meeting with Minister Lebouthillier to speak directly to our Union’s priorities and recommendations for ensuring prosperity for our coastal communities.