Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the implementation of a new model for assessing the 2J3KL northern cod stock. The new model assesses long-term productivity from 1954 to present, using tagging and landings data from the full time series. The new model and limit reference point (LRP) show that northern cod is no longer in the critical zone and, importantly has been above the LRP since 2016. Northern cod will be assessed against the new model and limit reference point at the March 2024 stock assessment meeting.
“FFAW-Unifor has been advocating for changes to the stock assessment model and the limit reference point for several years, and this announcement today is certainly a very positive step for improving the robustness of fisheries science in our province,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “We’re also pleased to see DFO’s surveys went ahead as planned this year and look forward to seeing the results of the full assessment this coming spring,” Pretty adds.
Inshore fish harvesters and Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador have been guaranteed the first 115,000 tons of northern cod and were negatively impacted this year by a limited stewardship fishery. The potential impacts on next year’s Maximum Allowable Harvest (MAH) could provide important and urgently needed economic opportunity for inshore fish harvesters and plant workers.
“We applaud the considerable work by the DFO Science Department to develop a new assessment model that considers productivity over the full time series. The longer time series shows that the stock can and has recovered from similar levels in the late 1970s, meaning that the revised LRP makes sense when you look at the longer time series,” says Dr. Erin Carruthers, senior fisheries scientist and science program lead at FFAW-Unifor.
FFAW-Unifor looks forward to continuing to participate in all processes relating to the assessment and management of the 2J3KL northern cod stock to ensure a long-term, sustainable fishery for generations to come.
“Ensuring we have adequate processing capacity to handle all commercial species landed by Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters needs to be a priority for our provincial government,” says Pretty. “Today’s news is another sign that important work needs to be done before next year’s fishery,” concludes Pretty.