DFO Signs Over Yellowtail to USA, Refuses Access to Inshore Harvesters

On October 30, FFAW-Unifor received confirmation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that the department does not intend to reallocate the quota for yellowtail to allow inshore harvesters access, despite transferring 450 metric tons (mt) of Canadian quota to the United States in 2019.

Yellowtail flounder is a stock managed by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). Canada was allocated a quota of 16, 575mt in 2019. In 2008, the Canadian government made a 10-year deal signing over 1,000mt of yellowtail to the United States each year – with a secret addendum added in 2010 that committed to continuing a US quota share.  The remainder of the Canadian quota is harvested by offshore companies and significant portions have not been harvested in recent years.

“Despite FFAW-Unifor’s consistent lobbying and disagreement with the transfer of valuable quotas out of Canada, the inshore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador has no access to the yellowtail quota,” explains FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “The federal government should not be handing over yellowtail to another country while Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters have no access to the resource. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to reallocate the quota in order to give inshore harvesters access,” Sullivan says.

Moreover, Canada has deviated from the country-to-country transfer system in recent years to a system where corporations are permitted to negotiate and transfer quotas to foreign countries and other companies outside of the NAFO negotiation process. Such transfers are generally not discussed at the annual meeting and inshore harvesters’ opinions are not given consideration when these transfers are rubber-stamped.

DFO officials informed FFAW-Unifor that there are no plans to reallocate this quota and if inshore harvesters want access, they must make a deal with offshore companies. Rather than protect the owner-operator fleet and reduce inequities in resource allocations, these backroom deals directed by our federal government exacerbate the frustrations felt by inshore harvesters.

“Independent owner-operators in the inshore fishery reject the notion that we must engage in a system that allows multi-million-dollar corporations to dictate the terms of Canadian quota allocation. These backroom deals undermine fish harvesters and only serve to block access to the resource on our doorstep,” concludes Sullivan.

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For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications, at [email protected] or at 709-743-4445.

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