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SEA-NL Resolutions

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SEA-NL Resolutions 

The following resolutions were passed on Feb. 25th, 2023 during SEA-NL's 1st AGM in Gander, NL.

Resolution 1: Atlantic Mackerel Fishery


Whereas, the Government of Canada implemented a moratorium on commercial fishing for Atlantic mackerel off Eastern Canada in 2022 while the United States continued to fish the same stock with a quota of 4,963 tonnes;

Whereas, the United States has set its 2023 quota for Atlantic Mackerel at 3,639 tonnes;

Whereas, the continuation of an Atlantic mackerel moratorium in Canadian waters is a senseless sacrifice for Canadian harvesters when the U.S. has not stopped fishing;

Whereas, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s science on Atlantic mackerel has been relatively weak, with even less data without fishermen on the water;

Whereas, Fishermen reported unprecedented schools of mackerel along Newfoundland’s northeast coast right up to January 2023 with published reports and pictures of dead or dying fish washed up on beaches that harvesters were not permitted to collect;


Be it resolved, DFO lift the moratorium on Atlantic mackerel in 2023, and set a quota at least equal to the TAC set for 2023 by the United States.


Resolution 2: Action Plan for Seals 


Whereas, the estimated population of various species of seals off Eastern Canada has been pegged at roughly 10 million;

Whereas, the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently acknowledged that seals eat fish;

Whereas, the federal government held a Seal Summit in St. John’s in November 2022 that failed to produce a game plan with clear objectives and timelines to deal with the rising seal population;

Whereas, the seal science presented at the Summit was alarming, and clearly incomplete;

Whereas, of the six species of seal in Atlantic Canadian waters, DFO only has recent population estimates for two — harp and grey seals;

Whereas, DFO says there appears to be new "colonies" of grey seals threatening groundfish stocks such as cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as “river seals” or animals that take up year-round residence in some rivers;

Whereas, DFO’s leading seal scientist said as late as 2021 that the seal population is not a major factor in declining fish stocks, but the department has since reversed its position;

Whereas, the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery has observed continual decline, fishery closures, moratoriums and quota reductions in practically all commercial fish species.

Whereas, Canada has the largest pinniped population in the world and sits idle while other countries and jurisdictions link seals to the decline of commercial fish stocks;


Be it resolved, that Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as custodial manager of all commercial and recreational fishing activity in inland, coastal and offshore waters including up to 200 miles provide a detailed action plan on seal populations throughout Canada. The specific seal action plan should include the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as Arctic waters, and should be developed and released within a six-month time frame.

Resolution 3: Foreign overfishing on High Seas

Whereas, continued foreign overfishing outside Canada’s 200-mile limit continues to threaten the health of migratory groundfish stocks such as northern cod and shellfish such as northern shrimp;

Whereas, Canada does not have the power to charge or arrest foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing on the high seas off Newfoundland and Labrador under the rules of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO);

Whereas, under NAFO rules Canadian Fishery Officers only have to power to issue “notices of infringement” to foreign trawlers suspected of illegal fishing, with any follow-up investigation carried out by the vessel’s home country;

Whereas, many of the factory-freezer trawlers have had multiple notices of infringement levelled against them, with no change in fishing behaviour;


Be it resolved, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a stronger stand against foreign overfishing on the Grand Banks outside 200 miles, starting with more aggressive appointments to NAFO.

Resolution 4: Independent review of DFO science 

Whereas, the continued cancellations and delays of critical assessments that survey the health of major fish stocks like northern cod and northern shrimp have undermined faith in Fisheries and Oceans science, both at home and aboard;

Whereas, the Canadian Coast Guard science ship Alfred Needler has been decommissioned, and critical comparative fishing sea trials with new science vessels has not been completed;

Whereas, breakdowns, unplanned maintenance and refits on both new and old fisheries science vessels — on top of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — have led to the cancellation of numerous stock assessments going back to 2020;

Whereas, poor science leads to bad management decisions, and too many commercial stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador have been deemed by DFO to be at or near the critical zone, in some cases for decades;

Whereas; retired senior manager Morley Knight with DFO NL Region and in Ottawa said earlier this year the department is often unable to produce science adequate for management of the fishery;


Be it resolved, that the Government of Canada order an independent external review of DFO science/management in the NL Region.


Resolution 5: Atlantic Tuna Fishery

Whereas, the Fisheries Licensing Policy for the Newfoundland and Labrador region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding Bluefin tuna states that “re-issuance is permitted within the 12.2m (40’) LOA or greater fleet”;

Whereas, the migratory patterns for Bluefin tuna have changed over time, and the fish swim closer to shore where harvesters are known to catch them from open boats;

Whereas, harvesters in the less than 40’ fleet do not have an opportunity to purchase tuna licenses are where their vessels more than capable of participating in the Bluefin tuna fishery in waters adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador;

Whereas, 125 Bluefin tuna were landed in the 2022 fishery off Newfoundland and Labrador with a landed value of $385,000;


Be it resolved, that DFO amend its Fisheries Licensing Policy for its NL Region to allow for the re-issuance of Bluefin tuna licences to vessels in the less than 40 fleet.


The following resolutions were passed on Feb. 8th, 2022 during SEA-NL's Founding Convention.

Resolution 1: Non-core Groundfish Licences


Whereas, non-core commercial groundfish licences in Newfoundland and Labrador represent a lifetime investment by the holders of those licences;

Whereas, non-core licence holders cannot divest, transfer or integrate their non-core lifetime investment into a family succession plan;

Whereas, non-core licence holders are deemed to have a fundamental retirement entitlement based on their occupational lifetime investment;

Whereas, a non-core licence become null and void at the expiration of its holder in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador;   

Whereas, on Dec. 22, 2021 Federal Court Justice Heneghan set aside a decision by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to reject a request by a Nova Scotia fisherman to transfer His Category B lobster licence, and the matter be returned to the federal Minister for redetermination;

Whereas, a non-core groundfish licence in Newfoundland and Labrador is the same as a Category B lobster licence in the Maritimes in that it can’t be sold or transferred; 

Be it resolved, Fisheries and Oceans Canada change the status of non-core commercial groundfish licences in Newfoundland and Labrador so that they can be divested in a manner determined by the enterprise licence holder, similar to those of core enterprise owners.


Resolution 2: Labrador Search and Rescue


Whereas, the entire coastline of Labrador is void of a single primary dedicated maritime or air resource stationed in the Labrador region to conduct search and rescue (SAR) missions;

Whereas, Labrador represents one of the largest geographical areas in Canada without a dedicated SAR air or maritime resource stationed in its region;

Whereas, significant maritime activity takes place in the Labrador region involving a large representation of the fishing industry;     

Be it resolved, Fisheries and Oceans Canada dedicate a primary Canadian Coast Guard resource to Labrador;

Be it further resolved, National Defence assign a dedicated Cormorant helicopter to 5 Wing Goose Bay to address timely SAR coverage for the Labrador region.


Resolution 3: Price Reconsideration


Whereas, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador regulations and pursuant guidelines that regulate the Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel restrict each party to one price reconsideration per species;

Whereas, such restrictions prevent inshore fish harvesters from realizing fair-market value for their catches, or can result in significant financial shortfalls for inshore enterprises;

Whereas, such financial shortfalls can adversely affect the viability and sustainability of inshore fishing enterprises;

Whereas, the elimination of such restrictions would provide a fair and balanced approach to both parties involved in the collective-bargaining process in terms of achieving fair-market value;

Be it resolved, the regulation under the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel that restricts each party to one price reconsideration per species be lifted;

Be it further resolved, the amendment provisions for the change be made prior to the start of the 2022 season.


Resolution 4: Bottom-trawling for cod in 3Ps


Whereas, the status of the 3Ps cod stock has been volatile in that the commercial fishery was shut down in 1993, reopened in 1997 with a 10,000-tonne quota, and jumped to as high as 30,000 tonnes in 1999 before dropping to the 2021 low of 1,345 tonnes;

Whereas, inshore harvesters insist the bottom-trawling of cod in pre-spawning and spawning congregations in NAFO fishing zone 3Ps prevents the stock from returning to/maintaining healthy levels;

Whereas, Fisheries and Oceans Canada allows for the bottom-trawling of the 3Ps cod stock, while banning the bottom-trawling of northern cod off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (fishing zones 2J,3KL), and cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (fishing zones 4R/3Pn);

Whereas, Fisheries and Oceans Canada cannot scientifically justify banning bottom-trawling for cod in two stocks adjacent to the province, when all three are deemed by DFO science to be in the critical zone, with commercial fishing kept to a minimum;

Whereas, the 3Ps cod stock is no less susceptible to the impacts of bottom-trawling than northern cod or Gulf cod;

Whereas, the inshore harvesters of 3Ps had been led to believe that the bottom-trawling of 3Ps cod would not resume until the overall annual quota reached above 10,000 tonnes;

Be it resolved, Fisheries and Oceans Canada extend the ban on bottom-trawling to include the 3Ps cod stock off southern Newfoundland.


Resolution 5: Adjacency Principle


Whereas, coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and all of Canada have an intrinsic social and economic link to adjacent resources;

Whereas, historic attachment and dependence on resources in this province and all Canadian coastal communities have welded a cultural mosaic into the fabric of the people who live there;

Whereas, options required for economic survival and sustainability of coastal communities in NL and all of Canada are primarily limited to adjacent resources;

Whereas, fish management policies of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans have ignored the adjacency principle, creating a disproportionate allocation of fishery resources to non-residents, offshore fishing fleets, and foreign interests;

Whereas, the absence of application of the adjacency principle in the allocation of resources has created far-reaching negative social and economic consequence in rural coastal communities;

Be it resolved, SEA-NL calls on all levels of government in NL and Canada to establish a Declaration of Adjacency to be defined as the fundamental right of those living in NL and all of  Canada to the first right of benefit from adjacent resources;

Be it further resolved, adjacency shall be the defining principle that forms the basis of managing the allocation of resources in the coastal areas and regions of NL and all Canadian provinces and territories, and;

Be it also resolved, current quota allocations and practices are reviewed through the lens of the adjacency principle, with appropriate adjustments made in instances where there is an absence of an application of the adjacency principle.


Resolution 6: Vessel-Length Restrictions


Whereas, fishing vessels have the highest rate of accidents and fatalities of any commercial activity in Canada;

Whereas, fishing-vessel safety has been closely linked to vessel-size restrictions;

Whereas, fishing vessel modifications impact buoyancy and overall stability;

Whereas, fishing vessel modifications entail significant cost implications to enterprise owners including design plans, stability testing, and material/labour costs;

Whereas, market availability for purchasing fishing vessels at economical prices are highly enhanced with the removal of size restrictions;

Whereas, the priority for enterprise owners is the safety of their crew while fishing in adverse weather conditions in offshore environments;

Whereas, carrying-capacity correlations related to vessel length is a relative concept coupled with capacity constraints imposed by IQs (individual quotas):

Be it resolved, Fisheries and Oceans Canada immediately establish a standard fishing-vessel length policy for all of Atlantic Canada that provides for consistent safety measures and economical purchasing options for enterprise owners, and;

Be it further resolved, a more long-term approach be taken to better establish fishing categories outside of vessel-size constraints, and to enhance the co-ordination of inherent safety issues between fish harvesters, Transport Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans.      


Resolution 7: Herring Policy


Whereas, when a seiner catches herring in Newfoundland and Labrador samples must be taken at sea to measure for small-fish tolerance, and if more than 20% in most areas is found to be under the minimum size of 24.76 cm the fish must be released;

Whereas, the sampling process takes time, and often leads to the death of some of the herring whose scales are damaged by the seine;

Whereas, despite taking extreme care with the herring when the fish is corralled in the seine, hundreds of thousands of pounds of herring were reported to have been released dead in waters around Newfoundland and Labrador in 2021 as a direct result of the at-sea testing process;

Whereas, monitoring of herring length distribution for the small-fish protocol in NAFO division 4T is not carried out at sea, but at the wharf by the dockside monitoring company;

Whereas, monitoring the herring length at the wharf by the dockside monitoring company in NAFO division 4T does not result in the dumping at sea of any herring;

Be it resolved that, DFO’s small-fish protocol in place in DFO’s Gulf Region that includes the application of a conversion factor when more than 10% of small fish is landed be extended to the herring fisheries in DFO’s NL region.


Resolution 8: Hook and Line in Marine Protected Areas


Whereas, DFO currently does not allow open-line or baited hook fishing in marine protected areas;

Whereas, Snow crab fishing is allowed in these marine protected areas;

Whereas, Seismic activity is allowed in marine protected areas;

Whereas, Hook and line fishing does not negatively impact the ocean floor or conservation efforts;

Therefore be it resolved, that SEA-NL advocate for a change in policy to allow open-line fishing for cod in marine protected areas.

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