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Snow Crab - Frequently Asked Questions

January 29, 2021

NL Snow Crab PA Process FAQs


1. What is a PA?

PA stands for precautionary approach. When we are talking about a NL Snow Crab PA, we are talking about a Precautionary Approach Management Framework.
Although there are different types of PA frameworks, all PAs have stock status zones (Healthy, Cautious and Critical) and decision rules that reduce fishing pressure as stock status declines.
The approach for the NL Snow Crab differs from other PA frameworks in NL in that the stock status zones are based on fishery removals relative to available crab; the zones are based on predicted CPUE instead of being based on a productive period or set biomass level, like is the case for Northern Cod or Northern Shrimp. This means the CPUE metric is measuring how well fishing levels match the amount of fishable crab. The proposed Snow Crab PA also includes a discard metric and a measure of the proportion of females with full egg clutches.
PA frameworks are now legally required under the new Fisheries Act

2. What happened to the FFAW proposed PA?
It was reviewed through the DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) peer-review process and rejected. However, as a result of the extensive consultations with snow crab fleets, committees and chairs, FFAW has a much stronger basis for discussion/opposition on DFO’s previously released PA approach.

3. What are we doing now? And why?
FFAW Staff and 6 Snow Crab Fleet Chairs have joined a NL Snow Crab Precautionary Approach Working Group (WG).
There are many components of a PA framework that are subject to industry consultation before being finalized. This working group will work on negotiating those aspects (ex. definition of Healthy and Cautious Zones, decision rules and removal rates).
Given that PA frameworks are now required and given that there is a full PA framework on the table, it is important that we continue to engage in the process to help ensure that the PA Framework makes sense for the NL snow crab fishery.

4. How will a PA affect my allocation?
A PA framework will set the upper limit of exploitation rates for a particular Assessment Division. It will also define decision points. By contributing to the PA WG, we can identify the types of information being considered in the framework, which will eventually be used in determining allocations once the PA Framework is implemented
For an Assessment Division currently having exploitation rates below about 40%, we would not expect a radical change following the implementation of a PA Framework. This is the case in most Assessment Divisions, except in 2HJ where it is currently estimated to be above 50%. Irrespective of a PA Framework, many 2HJ snow crab harvesters are well aware of snow crab status and issues.
More detailed information on management and allocations at the Crab Management Area will be discussed at fleet meetings and advisories.

5. Will consultation still occur at the CMA level?
DFO has stated that management of the fisheries will still be done at the CMA level and the department will still take fleet recommendations for allocations at the CMA level.

6. Why is the critical zone limit so high?
Good question. FFAW has objected to a Limit Reference Point of 5 kg/pot or 11 pounds/pot, below which the stock would be considered in the Critical Zone. FFAW will continue to object to this level.

7. When will a NL Snow Crab PA Framework be re-evaluated?
Once a PA framework is in place, recommended review times are 2-3 years. FFAW is requesting that the PA framework for Snow Crab be reviewed in 2 years.

8. What happens if we do not contribute to the development of a PA Framework?
DFO is now required by law to have PA frameworks in place. It is unlikely that there will be a full PA in place for the 2021 fishing season but DFO has made a commitment to have PA frameworks in place for all major commercial fisheries. It is our expectation that one will be in place prior to the 2022 fishing season. It is better to propose decision rules, stock status zone definitions and removal rates that are more sensible for the fleets than to sit this one out.

9. Where do I get more information?
Current status, next steps and draft PA frameworks will be discussed at crab fleet meetings, general membership meetings and at upcoming crab advisories. Upcoming meetings will be posted on the FFAW website. If you need more information on upcoming meetings and discussions, contact your crab committee members, FFAW Staff Rep and Inshore Council member.