The 3Ps groundfish advisory was held last week and FFAW harvester representatives from throughout the 3Ps region met again today to discuss concerns and next steps related to the valuable cod stock.
There is a high level of concern among harvesters who have depended on this stock for their entire lives. Last year, the Minister of Fisheries and Ocean, Bernadette Jordan, threatened to close this fishery, despite no real change in the stock in recent years and massive cuts made by DFO.
At the advisory meeting FFAW participants:
- Expressed an overarching concern that DFO must do more to engage harvesters meaningfully, respect their knowledge and do more consultation on important issues such as Rebuilding Plans;
- Demanded immediate action to remove the offshore draggers from this fishery;
- Emphasized the importance of transparency and ensuring all information needed to make decisions is available. For example, DFO say the “rule of 5” protects the release of information if there are less than 5 participants. This means that offshore companies have access in 3Ps but information on their catch is not available at the advisory table;
- Pointed out the need to address the primary causes of mortality of the 3Ps cod stock. Mortality due to fishing is at extreme lows (0.03), whereas reported “natural mortality” is more than 10 times greater. The most important factors driving mortality are not being addressed; and
- Reaffirmed that the number of seals in this region has continued to grow for years with irrefutable impact to cod and other valuable stocks. More focus and must be placed on this major problem identified by harvesters.
DFO requires Rebuilding Plans for fish stocks listed in the Critical Zone However, any rebuilding plan that does not address the main sources of mortality will not help grow the stock. Inshore harvesters and the FFAW have continually highlighted the need to understand and address issues that are limiting the growth of this important stock.
FFAW will continue to engage with DFO, Members of Parliament and the Minister of Fisheries to ensure harvesters voices are heard on this stock.