Yesterday afternoon, lobster harvesters in our province were blindsided when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans released changes to logbook procedures that would require harvesters to carry logbooks onboard vessels at all time and be completed fully on a daily basis prior to landing. The change, which was implemented without consultation with harvesters, raises significant safety concerns for lobster harvesters who fish out of small, open boats.
“DFO must make adequate effort to consult with fish harvesters before making significant changes to fisheries regulations. Implementing this decision with no consultation is unacceptable,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.
Logbooks for this fishery are not new, however having to carry them onboard vessels and completed before landing certainly is. The lobster fishery is undertaken in early spring where inclement weather is always a concern and completing logbooks prior to landing presents an unnecessary safety hazard for harvesters.
“We are the ones that got to battle the weather this time of year in small open boats, that’s just something else we need to worry about for no purpose,” says Dan Baker, lobster harvester from Harbour Breton.
There is no quota for the lobster fishery; harvesters record landings and undertake various controls to ensure the fishery is harvested sustainably. The Department provided no justification this new regulation, and harvesters are confident that reporting will not be improved as a result of this change.
FFAW-Unifor is calling on DFO to immediately withdraw this regulation and to ensure that any future changes are done in consultation with fish harvesters.