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NSAC Announces New Interim Quota for Northern Shrimp

May 1, 2019

This afternoon, the interim Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for northern shrimp was announced by the Northern Shrimp Advisory Council. As it stands, SFA 6 will receive 100% of the 2018/19 quota, with inshore harvesters receiving 6076t.

The scientific advisory for northern shrimp was held earlier this year. According to DFO Science, SFA 6 stock levels stabilized last year while SFAs 4 and 5 have experienced more declines. The fishable biomass in SFA 6 increased by 3% while the spawning stock biomass increased by 27% in 2017-18.

The meeting to review the Limit Reference Point (LRP) for northern shrimp has been rescheduled for May 15-17, after which we expect that a final quota will be announced.

The 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, offshore companies pushed to set an LRP that would be unjustifiably 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.

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.

We will provide an update to shrimp harvesters following the meeting May 15-17.

See attached for the complete breakdown of TACs in SFAs 5 and 6.