FISH-NL demands Ottawa explain itself in light of massive cuts to caplin quotas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, June 29th, 2018

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is demanding Ottawa explain itself in light of huge cuts to caplin quotas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off eastern and southern Newfoundland and Labrador.

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“This is a banner year for caplin in the Gulf with the federal government’s own scientists reporting an abundance of fish not seen in years, and yet the quota has been cut by 35 per cent,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “How does that make sense? It doesn’t.”

“At the same time, scientists said in March that the caplin stock off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador was down 70 per cent, but the relatively small commercial fishery isn’t having an impact,” he added. 

“Then what is having an impact? As usual, by releasing the information late on the Friday of a long weekend Fisheries and Oceans sidesteps having to explain itself.”

“The disrespect shown by Ottawa to the inshore harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador is boundless.”

DFO’s 2018 management plan for caplin in the Gulf (fishing zones 4RST) cut the quota to 9,295 tonnes from 14,300 tonnes the year before. 

DFO conducted its very first caplin survey in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this past spring, with scientists reportedly seeing banks of fish. At the same time, the survey results are still being put together, so Ottawa didn't even have a baseline to justify its decision to cut. 

Meantime, DFO’s 2018 management plan for caplin off eastern and southern Newfoundland and Labrador (fishing zones 2J3KLPs) cut the quota there by about 35 per cent to 19,823 tonnes from 30,496 tonnes last year. (Only 19,900 tonnes were actually landed in 2017.) 

“DFO’s own scientists said environmental conditions — not removals from the commercial fishery — are driving low abundance,” said Cleary, adding harvesters reported an abundance of caplin in most bays this spring.

 “Yet here we go again with DFO hammering harvesters. Fishermen are right to question whether the federal minister is out to punish them or bankrupt them.”

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