Harvesters Call for Immediate Removal of Offshore Draggers from Vulnerable Cod Fishery

January 13, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) launched a campaign today calling on the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, to immediately remove offshore draggers from the cod fishery on the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Harvesters in the area have been raising the alarm on the stock for several years and are asking the Minister to implement a Stewardship Fishery in the region in a last-ditch effort to protect the vulnerable stock.

For years, fish harvesters on the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador have spoken out on the declining cod stocks in fishing area 3Ps. The 2019 Department of Fisheries and Oceans stock assessment of 3Ps cod indicated a continued decline of the stock due to high natural mortality rates.

“Fish harvesters are concerned about the future of their fishery and the impact offshore draggers and seals are having on this vulnerable cod stock. Natural mortality is driving the decline of the stock, while industrial draggers operate in the area during critical pre-spawning periods when fish are aggregated, threatening any chance of growth or stability,” explains Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.

“The harvester committee in 3Ps has therefore requested DFO implement a Stewardship Fishery in the region, meaning only boats under 65 feet would participate at a significantly reduced quota,” explains Sullivan.

“The fishery is the backbone of the south coast and is what sustains our communities. If something isn’t done soon, I’m not sure it will be around much longer – let alone for future generations,” warns 3Ps harvester Clayton Moulton.

According to past practice, when the 3Ps cod quota is set below the 10,000 ton threshold, offshore trawlers are removed from the fishery. This was the case in 1997 when the fishery re-opened in the area. Despite this precedent, past Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans have continued to permit offshore dragger activity in the area.

“This campaign is not just for affected harvesters, but for anyone concerned about the effect these draggers are having on vulnerable fish stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador. We encourage everyone to support this campaign and ensure our voice is heard in Ottawa,” says Sullivan.

The letter writing campaign, which asks Minister Jordan to remove offshore draggers from fishing on the vulnerable 3Ps cod stock, is available here.

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

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