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October 10, 2023

Fish harvesters around Newfoundland and Labrador continue to observe historically high numbers of mackerel around the province while the fishery remains under moratorium. 

“Seeing such a large abundance of mackerel around our province during the most economically trying year in the last two decades is frustrating for fish harvesters,” says FFAW-Unifor Secretary Treasurer Jason Spingle. “It’s clear the stock is much healthier than what DFO says, but unfortunately, DFO Science has not prioritized evaluating the extent of mackerel biomass throughout the region,” Spingle says. 

Mackerel samples collected by harvesters on the West and Northeast coasts will demonstrate that mackerel of all sizes are found in NL waters. In addition to this mackerel sampling program, which was developed with DFO, the Unioncontinues to systematically document harvesters’ observations of mackerel in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.  Harvesters’ observations are needed to show when, where and what sizes of mackerel are found in NL waters. These observations provide important context to the mackerel samples being collected around the province. Fish harvesters who are interested in contributing their observations may contribute to a survey which will be re-launched in the coming weeks in order to bring new data forward to DFO this year.  

Colin Greenham, a 3K harvester, has been collecting samples as part of the Union’s research and data collection efforts. Greenham, who fishes out of Pacquet, has observed a large number of both big and small mackerel, which suggests a stock in good health. “There is definitely spawning happening on the Northeast coast. These different sizes show that the resource is in good shape and DFO is not taking into account the full picture,” Greenham says. “There are millions of pounds of mackerel swimming by the wharf and we’re standing watching it our hands in our pockets not sure if we’ll have enough EI to get us through the winter,” Greenham says.   

“These sampling programs and the new egg survey on the west coast are a step in the right direction but what we really need is a commitment from DFO to work with us to document the sheer volume of mackerel in NL waters,” Spingle concludes.