In its own snow crab management plan for the province, DFO comes down on the idea of a fall fishery — pointing to a 2017 pilot project by the Marine Institute that found crab caught in the fall are typically newly hard shelled with lower meat content, "which drives down the price the following season." But almost two months after being asked for a copy of the report, and the department has yet to release it.
St. John's harbour looking towards the city skyline.
SEA-NL first asked for a copy of the 2017 report on crab meat yield (as a means to "assess the biological and market viability of a fall fishery") on April 17th.
DFO responded on May 23rd to say that because the report (which has never been released publicly) contains information specific to the landings of individual enterprise owners, privacy requirements must be met.
That should take someone with a black marker all of a few minutes, but bureaucratic time isn't measured the same as regular person time. (Think dog years to human years.)
NO EXCUSE FOR THE DELAY
There is no fall fishery for snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador, but the idea for one was raised earlier this spring at the beginning of the almost seven-week tie-up over price.
The idea is still being discussed today given that not all of this year's 54,300-tonne quota is expected to be taken, even though DFO is expected to grant fishery extensions well into July.
Fishing schedules and trip limits have slowed catches by the inshore fleet (particularly the smaller boat sector) to a crawl, but there's a nature-imposed deadline in that soft shell or newly moulted crab will shut down fisheries in the summer.
As of today, DFO reports that 12,591 tonnes (23%) of the Newfoundland and Labrador quota has been taken.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.