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South coast communities facing devastation, solutions needed from federal government

May 11, 2017

ST. JOHN’S – Fish harvesters on the south coast of the province in area 3Ps are calling on the federal government to the address the severe economic situation they are facing.

Harvesters are demanding the offshore be removed from the area and that the cod fishing season be opened immediately so that harvesters can have access to the resource adjacent to them.

Harvesters in this area are facing economic conditions that rival the cod moratorium.

The severe decline of a large variety of commercially valuable fish resources in this area is unprecedented, necessitating action by the provincial and federal governments. Inshore fish harvesters and south coast communities are more dependent on the small-scale cod fishery now more than any time in decades.

The cod stocks in 3Ps are in a vulnerable state and the federal government must protect the resource and the communities adjacent by removing the offshore draggers from fishing in the area. The offshore industrial dragger fishery operates during times of high aggregation pre-spawning periods, which continues to threaten a rebuilding stock. The last time the quota was set below 10,000 metric tonnes, the offshore industrial dragger fleet was removed from the fishery.

“The cod stocks in 3Ps are trending in a different direction, and any benefit that comes from this resource should be for the coastal communities that depend on it. Our small inshore boats are not having the same impact as the offshore draggers during pre-spawning times,” said Wayne Masters, FFAW Executive Board member and harvester from Red Harbour. “The federal government needs to recognize our communities are in crisis and that there are viable solutions that can lessen the impacts,” Masters added.

“The precarious situation facing fish harvesters in 3Ps grows more difficult with each passing day. It is critical that we work together to find ways to offer some stability and long-term sustainability for fish harvesters in this area,” said FFAW-Unifor President, Keith Sullivan.

Additional solutions that have been discussed in recent meetings with 3Ps leadership and provincial and federal government officials include providing harvesters with a fair share of halibut, and a license retirement program.


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Courtney Glode