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MEDIA RELEASE - DFO’s Massive Mackerel Mishap: Harvesters Call for Fishery Reopening

February 27, 2023

February 27, 2023

The Atlantic Mackerel Advisory Committee (AMAC) Meeting is taking place this week in Halifax, where industry and government will come together to discuss the fate of the Atlantic Mackerel fishery in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters will be in attendance, bringing forward their observations and knowledge and calling on Minister Joyce Murray to reopen the Atlantic Mackerel fishery this year.

“For upwards of 10 years now, fish harvesters in our province have witnessed distribution and sizes of mackerel that shouldn’t be seen in our waters, if what DFO says is correct,” explains FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “It’s one thing to shut a fishery down if it’s not doing well. But while the mackerel fishery was under moratorium in 2022, folks witnessed enormous abundance with wide distribution and year classes and there are even dozens of reports of sightings through the fall into January and February. These observations are entirely contradictory to DFO Science’s narrative that the stock is failing.”

Current assessment parameters are underestimating the Atlantic Mackerel biomass, and FFAW-Unifor argues that last year’s closure was based on incomplete information.

“FFAW-Unifor documented harvesters’ observations of mackerel from throughout the province, with 185 harvesters responding to our survey. This is not one or two harvesters; these are consistent observations from around the province. Documented observations from 185 harvesters cannot be disregarded as anecdotal information,” says Dr. Erin Carruthers, FFAW-Unifor Science Director.

“Minister Joyce Murray must look at all the facts. She must listen to the hundreds of people who spend their lives on the water. Our observations, knowledge, history and contributions hold meaning and value. More than that, Minister Murray must look at the evidence and the science that goes beyond DFO’s limited focus,” says Trevor Jones, Notre Dame Bay fish harvester who is attending the AMAC Meeting this week.

“The Atlantic Mackerel fishery must be reopened this year. Last year’s closure was already an enormous economic loss to our communities. The Atlantic Mackerel fishery has never been so abundant and healthy and reopening the fishery in 2023 is the only decision fish harvesters will accept,” Spingle concludes.

A campaign page and petition have been launched to call public attention to the failure of government.


For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode at