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LRP Review for Northern Shrimp Step in Right Direction for Inshore Fishery

March 28, 2019

LRP Review for Northern Shrimp Step in Right Direction for Inshore Fishery

The northern shrimp fishery is incredibly important for fish harvesters, plant workers, and the rural economy, in general. The inshore entered the northern shrimp fishery in 1997, and over the past 22 years it has generated billions of dollars in value for harvesters, plant workers, rural businesses and communities. The shrimp fishery is responsible for sustaining entire fleets, particularly in 4R and 3K, which consists of hundreds of enterprises and crew members.

The shrimp fishery requires a lot of financial investment from harvesters. In 2016 during the campaign against LIFO, our survey of shrimp harvesters showed that 80% of license owners had invested more than $1 million in their enterprise; 55% of license owners stated that their current shrimp harvesting-related debts exceeded $350,000.

This survey was conducted in early 2016. In 2015, inshore shrimp harvesters had a quota of over 30,000mt of northern shrimp. Last year, the inshore northern shrimp quota was 6,000mt, an 80% decline in four fishing seasons. It is hard to pay your crew, your debts, and sustain a community on an 80% decline in quota. Put most clearly, in 2015 the inshore landed more than $156 million worth of shrimp; last year they landed $61 million, a decline of $95 million in value.

The offshore sector has a large influence on the management of the northern shrimp fishery. The offshore lobby group, the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP), has fought a long battle against inshore access to northern shrimp. One area in which CAPP has been particularly influential is in the setting of benchmarks against which DFO science is to be applied.

A limit reference point (LRP) is a benchmark of the spawning stock biomass of the species against which to judge whether the stock is healthy or not. For shrimp fishing area (SFA) 6, where the inshore catches all of its shrimp, CAPP pushed to set an LRP that would be really harsh on the inshore fleet and drastically reduce the quota.

The LRP for area 6 is unjustifiable. Consider the following:

Shrimp Fishing Area SFA 4 (Offshore Only) SFA 5 (Offshore Only) SFA 6 (Inshore get 69%)
Limit Reference Point 20,400t 15,300t 81,600t
Fishable Biomass 42,100t 80,100t 89,600t
Spawning Stock Biomass (2019) 32,200t 38,400t 66,800t
Quota (2019) 10,845t (25.7% Exploitation Rate) 22,100t (27.6% Exploitation Rate) 8,960t (10% Exploitation Rate)


As the table shows, SFA6 has almost the same spawning stock biomass as SFA4 and 5 combined, but the lowest quota because of the LRP, which makes it look like SFA6 should be in critical zone and limited to a 10% exploitation rate.

FFAW has been fighting against the SFA6 LRP for the past three years because the LRP makes no scientific sense – the LRP is based on an environmental anomaly that may never be repeated. An LRP must be based on reality, so it is achievable. Our shrimp harvesters, who have invested millions into their enterprises and have created hundreds of millions of dollars in value, deserve nothing less than fairness from DFO science.

At the recent Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee meeting, FFAW laid bare the hypocrisy of the offshore with respect to limit reference points. The offshore are colluding to keep the inshore down and that cannot stand. Through much determination and argument, your Union convinced DFO to revisit the LRP for SFA6, which will take place in April. The announcement of a final quota for the area will be put off until the review is complete, the preliminary quota has been set at 75% last year’s.

The review of the LRP is potentially very good news for inshore shrimp harvesters. The review could move the stock out of the critical zone, which could allow for an additional 4500t to the SFA6 quota. That would mean an additional 6.8 million pounds for the inshore fleet, and millions of dollars in value to harvesters and plant workers.

This is undoubtedly good news, unless you have FISH-NL’s perspective. FISH-NL calls FFAW’s effort, “false hope,” suggesting that the Union forget its dogged pursuit of making things better for our members because it is just not worth it. FISH-NL also call the Union’s efforts for change “without scientific justification.” Clearly, the so-called “Fighting Newfoundlander” at the helm of FISH-NL has no idea of the fight that goes in to achieving fair science in the fishery.

It appears that the “Fighting Newfoundlander” may think that fighting for fairness in the fishery is just too hard. It requires facts and cannot be peddled through conspiracy.

And fighting for fairness at the DFO science table requires more than a barebones organization. Barebones gets you barebones results, and that’s what shrimp harvesters in this province would face under the direction of the “Fighting Newfoundlander.”

Shrimp harvesters need hope; they deserve hope. Hope is what drove them to fight to get into the shrimp fishery; hope is what fueled the defeat of LIFO; and hope has helped sustain the shrimp fleets through these lean years.

Hope also requires a record of success, and in that sense, your Union is a very good engine of hope.