FISH-NL against proposals to grant Labrador harvesters 25% of northern cod quota; calls on FFAW-Unifor to reveal its stand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is against proposals that could see 25 per cent of the northern cod quota allocated to harvesters from Labrador and processed there.

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“No one group or organization should be entitled to a percentage of the overall total allowable catch,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “The inshore harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole must be the principle beneficiary of adjacent fish stocks.”

In early April, the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company Ltd. and harvesters from Labrador (fishing zone 2J) submitted a proposal to Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s requesting “25% of the total estimated harvest be allocated to 2J fishers.”

The proposal pointed out that in 2018 Labrador harvesters landed less than three per cent of the overall 9,500-tonne quota.

While the request is for 25% of the entire quota, the total number of groundfish licences in Labrador in 2018 stood at 121 — only 6.4 per cent cent of the total 1,865 groundfish licenses in the northern cod zone (2J,3KL), which takes in most of the waters off Labrador and eastern Newfoundland.

“The 2J fishers are mostly indigenous fishers living directly adjacent to the northern cod resource, but the yearly plan for this resource has been structured in such a way that coastal Labrador will never receive a reasonable share of this resource,” read the proposal by the Labrador shrimp company, owned by harvesters from L’Anse Au Clair to Cartwright in southern Labrador.

“This approach to the management of this resource has to change and some recognition given to the unique characteristics of the Labrador fishery.”

The Nunatukavut Community Council also submitted a northern cod discussion document to DFO in April pushing the idea of a “guaranteed” level of the total allowable catch of northern cod directed to indigenous communities and fleets in Labrador. In the case of quota reductions, indigenous groups would be the last to be cut.

The FFAW-Unifor published an article in its spring magazine outlining how the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company — whose workers are represented by the union — is building a new multi-million ground fish plant in Mary’s Harbour, Labrador, with first production in 2021.

“How can the FFAW support an attempt by the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company to take food from other harvesters around the table?” questioned Cleary.

In 2018, the total allowable catch for northern cod was set at 9,500 tonnes, a 25 percent reduction relative to 2017.

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