South Coast Harvesters Call for Immediate Action to Protect Cod Fishery
November 29, 2019
ST. JOHN’S, NL – Harvesters on the south coast are calling on the federal government to immediately remove offshore trawlers from 3Ps as well as to take action on seal predation to protect the struggling south coast cod stock.
“3Ps harvesters are concerned about future of the fishery and the impact offshore draggers and seal predation are having on the vulnerable south coast cod stock. Natural mortality from seal predation is driving the trajectory of 3Ps cod while draggers operating during critical pre-spawning periods threaten any chance of stability,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
Previous stock assessments have shown that the 3Ps cod stock is only marginally improving despite very low removals from the inshore fishery. The offshore fishery continues to operate during times of high aggregation pre-spawning periods – a time when the fish stock is most vulnerable.
In the 1990’s when removals were under 10,000 tons, the offshore fleet did not participate in the 3Ps cod fishery Yet now that removals are once again below 10,000 tons and the offshore continues to operate in the region.
“It’s imperative that offshore draggers be immediately removed from this area. FFAW-Unifor has strongly objected to the offshore fishery operations on pre-spawning aggregations for several years, yet the federal government has continued to allow the fishery to continue,” says Sullivan.
Natural mortality is driving the decline of the 3Ps cod stock. Despite significant evidence of seal predation being a lead cause of this natural morality, it is not taken into account in the assessment process nor is any action being taken by DFO to mitigate the impacts of seal overpopulation on important fish stocks.
“For the last ten years, we have been telling DFO Science that the 3Ps cod stock is in trouble and that something must be done. We are on the water; we see the cod, we see the draggers and we see the seals, and it’s about time DFO started listening to us,” said 3Ps fish harvester from Red Harbour, Clayton Moulton.
“These are issues within our control and it’s time for the new Minister of Fisheries, Bernadette Jordan, to take immediate action before the impacts cannot be reversed. It’s clear the current way of doing things is not protecting the sustainability of the fishery or our coastal communities,” concludes Sullivan.
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