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Northern Shrimp Stock Assessment Shows Stabilization for Inshore Harvesters

February 18, 2019

DFO held a technical briefing for northern shrimp today to update industry stakeholders on the most recent stock assessment for Shrimp Fishing Areas (SFAs) 4, 5 and 6. Results of today’s briefing emphasized the need for DFO to take a holistic approach to fisheries management and the need for additional work to review the limit reference point for this species.

The majority of inshore fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador fish in SFA 6, while there are some FFAW-Unifor members that also fish in SFA 5. The offshore sector has majority access to both SFA 4 and 5.

According to DFO Science, SFA 6 stock levels stabilized last year while SFAs 4 and 5 have experienced significant declines. The fishable biomass in SFA 6 increased by 3 per cent. As a result of this information, we expect that no further cuts be made to SFA 6 in the 2019 fishing season.

However, a significant jump in the exploitation rate in SFA 4 is raising alarms due to the connectivity of the northern shrimp stock. DFO research indicates that shrimp larvae mostly drift from North to South, which means that the health of southern SFAs also depends upon what is happening further North.

“Northern shrimp in SFA 4, 5 and 6 are linked, so to see such a dramatic increase to the exploitation rate in SFA 4 is concerning for SFAs 5 and 6. Larvae of northern shrimp is known to drift downstream, so exploitation rates further North could be impacting rebuilding efforts in SFA 6,” notes FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

The exploitation rate in SFA 4 in 2017 was 20 per cent with a substantial jump in 2018 to 35.7 per cent. In contrast, the exploitation rate in SFA 6 was 10 per cent in 2018.

“DFO must take a more holistic approach to managing the northern shrimp resource in fishing areas 4, 5 and 6. The exploitation rates in these three fishing areas should be more in line with each other due to the connectedness of the stock,” says Sullivan.

FFAW-Unifor is looking forward to participating in DFO’s April meeting that aims to review the northern shrimp population model and the limit reference point for SFA 6.