MEDIA RELEASE: Inadequate Assessment by DFO Leaves Harvesters with Rollover for 2020 Cod Catch Limits

Inadequate Assessment by DFO Leaves Harvesters with Rollover for 2020 Cod Catch Limits

July 8, 2020

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the management plan for northern cod yesterday evening, revealing a rollover in the total allowable catch from last year. The rollover is a result of an inadequate assessment that failed to take into account important data as well as harvester observations – the result of which will have dire impacts on an already suffering inshore fishery.

“The inshore fishery has experienced significant impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is now being intensified as a result of an inadequate assessment for northern cod. A rollover for this year’s quota is completely unacceptable and must be reconsidered by DFO before the season opens,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “All available evidence suggests the biomass for northern cod has continued to increase and justifies the modest increase as proposed by FFAW-Unifor,” he adds.

A full stock assessment for northern cod was set to take place this spring, but as a result of COVID-19 only a stock status update was completed. The update did not take into account important data that was available from the regular assessment model or cod tagging undertaken in 2019. Information provided in the status update and previous assessments, however, did make clear that a modest increase to fishing would have no impact on the overall stock trajectory.

“We understand that the worldwide pandemic has certainly impacted many things, including the way DFO conducts its science assessments. However, stakeholders were not given any opportunity to provide input or feedback into this science report which lacked critical data,” Sullivan says.

The northern cod stewardship fishery is critically important to inshore fish harvesters and processing plant workers in Newfoundland and Labrador. With recent declines in snow crab quotas, northern cod has become vital to the inshore fishery and coastal communities.

“The recent impacts of the global pandemic on our fisheries has made northern cod more crucial than ever to our coastal communities. It’s critical that DFO immediately take another look at this ill-conceived rollover,” Sullivan concludes.

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The full management plan can be read here. 

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

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