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News Release: DFO Must Reconsider Decision to Close the Mackerel Fishery

October 21, 2016

For Immediate Release
Friday, October 21, 2016

DFO Must Reconsider Decision to Close the Mackerel Fishery

St. John’s – Harvesters’ frustrations continue to grow after news that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will not reconsider a decision to close the Mackerel fishery, despite increased catch levels this year compared to previous years. Canada has set a much lower quota level than the United States has set for the trans-boundary stock. Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters are calling for a re-opening and increased access in line with the US quota.

“One week has passed since the closure was announced and harvesters have been frustrated by DFO’s reluctance to deal with this issue in a timely manner,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “Harvesters are extremely concerned by DFO’s decision at a time when many harvesters could benefit significantly from an increased quota.”

An announcement was made that the fishery would close late on Friday, October 14. A Committee comprised of inshore Mackerel harvesters met with representatives from DFO on Tuesday, October 18 to express their concerns and request the re-opening of the fishery with an increased quota. Since that meeting, harvesters and FFAW-Unifor representatives have raised the issue with several NL Members of Parliament, including the Honourable Judy Foote, Scott Simms and Gudie Hutchings.

“Earlier this month, Canada’s Auditor General released a report highlighting gaps in DFO science and management policies. The fact that Department officials haven’t even been able to provide any information on this year’s Mackerel catch speaks to the need for drastic improvements in the way DFO tracks information and communicates to the industry,” continued Sullivan.

Yesterday harvesters who were prevented from retrieving their catch due to Hurricane Matthew were forced to remove their nets and release the fish that had been caught because the fishery had closed on Friday. Those harvesters now face financial loss for something that was beyond their control.

FFAW-Unifor is calling for DFO to take immediate steps to re-open the fishery and increase the quota in line with the quota set by the US.