Ottawa reverses cut to Gulf shrimp quota; FISH-NL savours win for inshore harvesters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is pleased to learn that Fisheries and Oceans has reversed its decision to cut the 2019 northern shrimp quota in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the province’s inshore harvesters.

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“Some fishermen from the Great Northern Peninsula see the decision as a sign that Ottawa may finally be listening to them,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “What we know for certain is our shrimp fleet in the Gulf has been hit particularly hard by quota cuts in recent years and they’ve worked hard to turn the stock around. FISH-NL savours the win for inshore harvesters.”

West Coast Liberal MP Gudie Hutchings called harvesters on the Great Northern Peninsula Tuesday evening to tell them the decision to cut their 2019 shrimp quota in the Gulf has been reversed.

On March 25th, DFO’s Quebec region cut the shrimp quota in the Gulf for Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters, who fish in an area known as the Esquiman Channel, by 15 per cent. The 2019 quota there had been set at 5,066 tonnes — down from 5,960 tonnes in 2018.

Inshore harvesters from the Great Northern Peninsula who fish in the Gulf (fishing zone 4R) had pushed for a 10 per cent quota increase this year, based on the fact their 2018 catch rates were up between 25-30 per cent.

Only harvesters learned that their log books weren’t factored into DFO’s latest science, and objected publicly. The harvesters also questioned the quality of DFO’s research, accusing scientists of basing their shrimp data on relatively few fishing tows, half of which were said to be carried out at night when the shrimp is higher in the water column and harder to catch.

The Gulf shrimp fishery opens April 1st, but Newfoundland and Labrador shrimp harvesters have taken management into their own hands, and voluntarily hold off fishing until May 1st to avoid landing “spawny” shrimp, and to prevent catching caplin mixed with the shrimp.

FISH-NL has called on Ottawa to recreate the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) to help bridge the gap between fishermen and scientists. Created in 1993 to listen to all sides and provide advice to the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans on quotas, the FRCC was disbanded in 2011 by the Stephen Harper administration.

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