March 4, 2021 – DFO held a technical briefing for northern shrimp today to update industry stakeholders on the most recent stock assessment for Shrimp Fishing Areas (SFAs) 4, 5, and 6. Overall, the results of today’s briefing was positive news, particularly for SFA 6 which saw a significant increase of 42% in spawning stock biomass (SSB). SFA 6, located off the Coast of Southern Labrador and Northeast Coast of Newfoundland, has the largest biomass. FFAW-Unifor is calling on DFO to re-evaluate the precautionary approach (PA) in this area and ensure all surveys are completed in future assessments.
The majority of inshore fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador fish in SFA 6, while there are some FFAW-Unifor members that also fish in SFA 5. Pursuant to a sharing arrangement established in 2016, 69.6% of the SFA 6 quota is allocated to the inshore. The offshore sector has majority access to both SFA 4 and 5.
“The northern shrimp stock remains very important to many of our members and the assessment shows generally positive signs of growth and stability”, said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “Inshore harvesters remain concerned that exploitation rates remain higher in more northern stock areas, SFAs 5 and 6, where offshore companies have primary access despite there being lower biomass levels than in SFA 6.”
“It’s very evident that there is a lack of survey results concerning shrimp in SFAs 4 and 5,” said 2J harvester Allister Russell who attended the online Assessment with two other harvesters. “Weather and ship availability have been major issues. It would make sense to plan the work in that area around that fair weather window in the North. Survey efforts have been hampered in those areas for the past two years, and it’s very important that we get a true picture of the fishable biomass and predation.”
According to DFO Science, SFA 6 stock levels stabilized in 2019 after several years of decline. FFAW is hopeful that the increased SSB in SFA 6 will translate to an increased TAC for 2021. FFAW also believes there should be a reassessment of the stock in SFA 7, which has been closed since 2015.
“We certainly want to see additional work done in SFA 7,” said Nelson Bussey, FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member and fleet chair for 3L that also attended the online Assessment. “We have put in a request with DFO every year since 2015 for an experiential fishery to see what’s going on and it is always rejected. We believe that this area may again be able to support an inshore fishery.
“Inshore harvesters remain concerned that the PA has not been applied consistently across shrimp fishing areas. For example, the SSB in SFA 6 is far higher than in SFA 4 and 5 but because the limit reference point was set so high in SFA 6, it is still in the critical zone. Meanwhile SFA 4 and 5, were offshore companies have primary access, have a much lower SSB but not in the critical zone and can have a high exploitation rate,” Sullivan concluded. The 2021 TAC for SFA 4-6 will be discussed at the Northern Shrimp Advisory Meeting (NSAC) to be held on March 9, 2021.
CLICK HERE to see the full presentation document provided by DFO this morning.
For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Langille at (709) 693-8454 or at [email protected]