FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 20, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) recommends the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans immediately suspend extra cod quota to inshore harvesters who fish off the province’s south coast.
“The priority must be to ensure all inshore harvesters have the opportunity to at least catch their basic IQs (Individual Quotas),” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.
It’s rumoured that more than 60 per cent of the 6,500-tonne cod quota that’s been set this year off the south coast (fishing zone 3Ps) has already been taken. A DFO official said late Wednesday afternoon the Department has noticed an increase in landings, and is “monitoring” the situation.
While south coast harvesters are assigned IQs, they’re also allowed to catch even more cod — this year it’s up to one full extra IQ, which local harvesters refer to as a “bump.”
The practice of cod bumps began in recent years when many south coast harvesters didn’t bother to catch cod, which fetched as little as 40 cents a pound, choosing to go after more lucrative species like crab.
Harvesters who did go after cod were given access to more fish, or bumps. In some years individuals harvesters have been granted multiple “bumps.”
The problem now is that with severe cuts to crab quotas harvesters are transitioning back to cod, resulting in increased fishing effort on the stock
“DFO should immediately cancel the cod bumps until officials can determine how much cod has already been taken,” says Cleary. “Quota must be left in the water for the fall and the harvesters who had planned to go after their IQs then.”
While the 3Ps cod quota has been slashed from 13,000 tonnes in 2016 (only 7,000 tonnes were actually taken), the size of IQs hasn't changed.
Rumour also has it that Ocean Choice International is currently gearing up its offshore vessels to catch south coast cod this fall.
“Inshore harvesters are dead in the water if factory-freezer trawlers are allowed back at the cod,” says Cleary.
“It’s time for inshore harvesters on the south coast to stand up for themselves after being misled by the FFAW into believing the union could represent both harvesters and plant workers.”
FISH-NL believes the south coast cod quote this year should have been set at 10,000 tonnes, and the offshore fleet banned completely from the 3Ps fishing zone.