DFO decision on mackerel quota ignores stakeholder position, further hurts fish harvesters

08/14/2017

FFAW-Unifor is shocked by DFO’s decision to increase the Atlantic Mackerel TAC by a mere 2,000t following a very solid recommendation for more than three times the current TAC, a position supported by all stakeholders from Newfoundland and Labrador.

“There is an abundance of fish around the province, and given that the TAC was caught in a few days once the fish began to gather for migration, there was no reason not to accept the stakeholders’ position. A conservative decision would be minimum 20,000 tons, and even that doesn’t come close to the fully supported recommendation,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

Meetings held earlier this year exposed flaws in the science process, leading to changes in the way scientific data for mackerel is collected. Stakeholders, including harvesters who see firsthand the fish on the water, strongly believe that the scientific estimated biomass is flawed and that last year’s TAC was at a completely unacceptably low level. Knowledge brought forward at these meetings and the position of the province’s stakeholders supported a significantly higher TAC this year.

4R harvester Allan Sheppard attended both the science and management meetings this year. “We put our observations forward in an objective manner including all of the fish we observed in 2016 and felt we got through, but now I feel that we were totally ignored on this one, it’s more than frustrating,” said Sheppard.

With a good sign of mackerel again this summer, NL harvesters know that they will be cut short. 3K harvester Randy Randell also attended the 2017 meetings. “The minster needs to reconsider this decision. This is going to be another unnecessary blow to many hurting harvesters just like last year and is not supported by the observations.”

FFAW’s staff scientist attended the initial Scientific Framework meeting in Rimouski, QC in January. A senior Staff Rep and two experienced harvesters attended the RAP back in Rimouski, QC in March, and an additional harvester attended the AMAC in Halifax in late March. “We invested heavily into this process knowing what happened in 2016 with lots of fish in the water and no quota needed to be corrected. Unfortunately, the experience and knowledge of harvesters was dismissed and that is unacceptable. This is one decision that needs to be reconsidered,” concluded Sullivan.

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