April 30, 2021 – Leading up to the federal election in 2015, the Liberal party committed to reviewing sharing arrangements for Atlantic halibut stock on the South Coast. Subsequently, changes were made to the federal Fisheries Act to specifically promote and protect owner operator, inshore fish harvesters. Adjacent inshore fish harvesters have not received fair consideration. Six years later, the Trudeau Government is well overdue to review the flawed sharing of this halibut stock.
The Atlantic halibut stock on the South Coast has shown a dramatic increase in the past decade, but an unfair sharing arrangement has left inshore harvesters with little benefits. The stock, known as the 3NOPs4VW+5 Atlantic halibut stock, is shared between the Maritimes and Newfoundland, and is further divided between inshore and corporate offshore fleets. Despite being adjacent to the resource and historic catch rates averaging closer to 6%, 3Ps inshore harvesters currently have access to less than 3% of overall TAC.
Halibut harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are again calling on the federal government to establish fair quota allocations on halibut for adjacent owner operator harvesters on the South Coast of our province. Previous sharing agreements have resulted in significant and disproportionate reductions in quota for Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters. With the cod quota in 3Ps reduced by 50% in 2021, harvesters on the South Coast are further challenged by not being able to supplement with an improved halibut catch.
The sustainability of coastal communities is reliant on a strong inshore fishery. Fishery management policies must be more reflective of historical attachment and economic dependence. For several years, FFAW-Unifor has lobbied for increased access for the 3Ps inshore fleets. A number of years ago when the stock and TAC began to dramatically increase, FFAW proposed that inshore harvesters in 3Ps see fairer benefits from any additional increases to the TAC. With the opening of the Halibut fishery quickly approaching, harvesters are urgently calling on DFO to revaluate shares to ensure inshore harvesters in 3Ps see more benefits from the Atlantic halibut stock. This continues to be the position of the FFAW, and we will continue to lobby for a more equitable share for our members.