Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released the capelin management plan for areas 4RST and 2J3KLPs, weeks into the 4RST season opening. This year’s total allowable catch (TAC) saw a reduction of 35% from last year.
For weeks, FFAW-Unifor has been pressing DFO to make this decision that impacts thousands of harvesters and plant workers in our province.
Harvesters and scientists alike have remarked on the exceptionally large number of capelin observed this year in 4R. Given the small amount of capelin removals, there is no indication that reductions to the fishery will affect the capelin stock trajectory in either 4R or 2J3KLPs.
As DFO indicated at the stock assessments earlier this year, the biomass of capelin is primarily environmentally-driven. Fisheries removals are an exceptionally small proportion of total removals. Additionally, DFO indicated that predation removals are on the order of a million tonnes annually, making removals from the commercial fishery a drop in the total removals bucket.
Many predators such as seabirds, seals, whales and fish feed on capelin of the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Additional science, including on predators such as seals, is crucial to providing a better understanding on these two capelin stocks.