FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Feb. 16th, 2018
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling for an immediate halt to the fishing of northern shrimp by factory-freezer trawlers in waters off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and southern Labrador until stocks rebound.
In light of more scientific bad news today on the state of northern shrimp in that area, which is known as Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6, FISH-NL calls on the the federal government to reserve the limited quota solely for the inshore fleet, and ban fishing altogether when shrimp are spawning.
Further, FISH-NL requests that Ottawa assign a quota of northern shrimp to the inshore fleet further north in SFA 5.
“Priority must be given to the inshore harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador — the economic pillars of our rural communities who are adjacent to the northern shrimp resource,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, reiterating a similar call he made in 2017.
“Inshore harvesters have been absolutely devastated by cuts to shrimp quotas, and yet another cut will push many over the financial edge. It’s clear there’s only room for the inshore fleet in that area.”
DFO’s latest science on northern shrimp was released today, with scientists advising the stock in SFA 6 off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and southern Labrador — on which the inshore fleet relies — remains in the critical zone.
Scientists report that the fishable biomass (the weight of all commercial-sized male and female shrimp) in SFA 6 dropped by 16 per cent between 2016-2017, and the spawning biomass decreased by 19 per cent over the same time frame.
Another cut in quota is expected this year — on top of last year’s massive cut of almost 63 per cent, which dramatically reduced the overall quota to 10,400 tonnes from 27,825 tonnes.
The scientific information will be presented March 7th to the Northern Shrimp Advisory meeting.
The bulk of the shrimp quota in SFA 6 — 69.9 per cent — is reserved for the inshore fleet, and 23.1 per cent for the offshore. The rest goes to St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (4.5 per cent), the Innu Nation (1.7 per cent), and Fogo Island Co-op (1.1 per cent).
“Factory-freezer trawlers fish shrimp in Area 6 in the winter, with the inshore fleet fishing in the summer so that the northern shrimp stock never gets a break,” says Cleary. “It’s clear the offshore must go, with priority given to the inshore.”
Meantime, scientists say shrimp stocks in SFAs 4 and 5 further north off Labrador remain in the healthy zone. Scientists did note that shrimp larva mostly drift north to south with strong currents, meaning fishing in SFAs 4 and 5 could have an impact on the growth of the stock in area 6.
“With the little bit of shrimp resource we have left there’s only enough room in SFA 6 for one fleet,” said Boyd Lavers, Captain of FISH-NL’s over 40-foot fleet. “As far as I’m concerned the offshore has to go for the inshore to survive, and the inshore must be given some access further north in Area 5.”
In 2016, there were 249 active inshore enterprises involved in the northern shrimp fishery, supplying product to eight onshore plants, compared to 17 offshore licences with quota caught by 10-12 factory-freezer trawlers. The number of inshore enterprises and plants have declined since then.
In July 2016 the federal government eliminated the last in, first out (LIFO) policy, replacing it with a proportional sharing arrangement of quota between inshore and offshore fishermen.