July 4, 2022
ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) is deeply disappointed with Minister Joyce Murray’s decision to close the small cod fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The small cod fishery is economically and culturally significant to the region, and science has shown that natural mortality is the key unaddressed factor in the stock’s ability to grow.
“Fish harvesters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would have gladly accepted a rollover or even a minimal reduction to the already very modest quota. Minister Murray’s decision further hurts this struggling region while continuing to let the real problem – seal overpopulation – spiral more and more out of control,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
The very small catch provided to this area is not only an important source of income, it functions essentially as an index fishery and maintains stewardship of the resource.
“Many people have chosen not to pursue cod directly in recent years, however for those that do it is an integral part of their enterprises and to our communities. We’re all here because of cod,” says Loomis Way, FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member representing the Northern Peninsula and Labrador and fish harvester from Green Island Cove.
Paul Nadeau, director of the Lower North Shore Fishermen’s Association (LNSFA) has been intimately involved with cod since the northern cod moratorium in the early 90’s, including as a member of the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC), and represents harvesters affected in other maritime provinces. “After the closure in 2003, I was confident that all parties agreed a total closure of the fishery would be counterproductive to any meaningful rebuilding strategy. It is a completely unnecessary decision,” Nadeau says.
Further compounding harvester frustrations is the Minister’s decision to allow the untracked recreational fishery to continue. The Minister has also provided no clarification on bycatch regulations for cod caught during undirected fisheries.
“Seal overpopulation has brought southern gulf cod to near extinction, and without prompt action by Minister Murray it looks as if Gulf Cod is headed that way too,” Sullivan warns. “For years, our organization has been calling on the federal government to step up and follow through with recommendations to control the seal population. Many species of groundfish will be unable to adequately recover without proper management of the seal population.”
“The Minster’s decisions this year on shrimp, mackerel and now gulf cod, show our federal government is not committed to the sustainability of our province. Coastal communities depend on healthy ecosystems for survival, and it is of utmost importance that we do what we can to support a balanced ecosystem,” Sullivan concludes.
For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode at [email protected] or text/call 709-743-4445.