Yesterday, April 25th FFAW met with Minister Joyce Murray to urgently discuss concerns that impact thousands of members. FFAW challenged the recent decision to disregard the precautionary approach (PA) and slash quotas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery as well as inadequacies in recent management decisions for the 3L inshore fleet. The meeting was brief, but FFAW also demanded that the Minister implement a process where more input and respect for harvesters is included in both fisheries’ science and management processes. Furthermore, the necessity to have adjacent inshore harvesters and coastal communities the primary beneficiaries of resources such as the growing redfish resource was discussed. Adam Burns, Director General, Fisheries Resource Management for Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Tony Blanchard, Regional Director General; and Liam MacKinnon, Regional Advisor, Office of the Minister were also included on the call.
FFAW explained to the Minister that harvesters must be more involved in consultative processes and management decisions because there has been significant erosion of harvester knowledge and input in recent years. Disregard for the PA established in collaboration with scientists, managers, and harvesters in the decision for Gulf shrimp was unbelievable and should be reviewed immediately. Time was taken to explain the significance of the shrimp PA to the Minister as an example of why harvesters feel that the Department is not listening to their knowledge and neglecting the hours preparing information for their advisories and in consultations with the rest of their fleets. Inshore harvesters in 3L have also presented the Minister with significant information that is supportive of reconsidering the original decision in snow crab and this was also discussed with Minister Murray.
FFAW emphasized to Minister Murray and her Department that confidence is needed that the inshore will receive the primary allocation of the emerging redfish fishery to appropriately transition the industry. Harvesters have been significantly impacted by the explosion of the redfish biomass and must have access to this adjacent resource. In addition, continued support for the scientific research that FFAW is leading to ensure a sustainable fishery that does not negatively impact other species is crucial.
The Minister did indicate a willingness to discuss harvester engagement in the science and management process and there was discussion around scientific considerations related to decisions such as Gulf shrimp. However, there were no commitments made to review the decisions that were highlighted by FFAW during the call.
One thing is clear, more respect for and collaboration with harvesters in decision making processes related to science, advisories, and program development is urgently needed to ensure a prosperous future for the inshore fishery in our province.
Thank You to Inshore Council Vice President Tony Doyle and Council member Ren Genge for participating in the discussion and offering your insights.