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Harvesters, FFAW and Crab Scientist Push DFO to Reevaluate Crab Plan

February 7, 2019

The Precautionary Approach (PA) Working Group for snow crab began its work this week in St. John’s with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and key stakeholders. Fish harvesters have raised serious concerns about the proposed framework for snow crab. More broadly, harvesters disagree with the process undertaken by DFO to develop reference points for crab. Fish harvesters, whose livelihoods are tied to the management of the resource, cannot accept a process that involved virtually no harvester consultation.

“DFO has stepped back 25 years to where our presence, our history, our experiences are not valued,” said Tony Doyle, Vice-President of FFAW-Unifor and crab committee chair for Conception Bay.

“We support a sustainable fishery and sound science-based fisheries management. However, there are significant issues in this approach that will have dire effects on the future of our communities,” said Doyle.

Along with 11 crab committee chairs from around the province and 3 FFAW-Unifor staff members, in attendance at the meeting representing FFAW-Unifor is fisheries scientist and expert in snow crab science, Dr. Earl Dawe.

For over 35 years, Dr. Earl Dawe was a fisheries scientist at DFO, and the senior scientist for snow crab until his retirement in 2015. After his retirement Dr. Dawe maintained emeritus status with the Department. Dr. Dawe shares the concerns of the crab harvesters regarding the inconsistencies with the calculation for the Limit Reference Point.

Crab committee chairs unanimously agreed that bringing on Earl Dawe would bring additional legitimacy to voicing our concerns with the proposed crab reference points.

“DFO developed these reference points with no meaningful consultations with harvesters. There are serious flaws what is proposed, and we will ensure DFO understands harvesters are not prepared to accept these changes,” said David Decker, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.

In attendance at the meeting representing their areas are:

  • Alton Rumbolt – 2J <40
  • Dwight Russell – 2J >40
  • Albert Wells – inshore 3K
  • Nancy Bowers – inshore 3K
  • Trevor Jones – offshore 3K
  • Rick Kean – offshore 3K
  • Brian Careen – inshore 3Ps
  • Tony Doyle – inshore 3L
  • Jim Chidley – inshore 3L
  • Andrew Daley – offshore 3L
  • Andy Careen – offshore 3L
  • David Decker, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer
  • Monty Way, FFAW-Unifor Staff Representative
  • Dr. Erin Carruthers, FFAW-Unifor Staff Scientist
  • Dr. Earl Dawe, FFAW-Unifor Consultant Scientist

Our Union is hopeful that DFO will show a genuine willingness to increase involvement and meaningful engagement of harvesters to ensure fisheries management decisions are reasonable and informed.