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Rejig Gulf redfish shares in favour of NL’s inshore fleet: SEA-NL

That’s SEA-NL’s stand in a nutshell on the future sharing arrangements for Gulf redfish, which could be one of Canada’s largest commercial fisheries in a few years. The province’s inshore fleet must be given priority access to the resource — they live adjacent to it, have an historical attachment, and are desperate for fish to catch. Considering the overall state of the commercial fisheries, the historical shares must be rejigged.

Redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (referred to as Unit 1 redfish) has been under moratorium since 1995, with a 2,000-tonne index or test fishery in place since 1999.

DFO has set Nov. 29th as the deadline for responses to a questionnaire on redfish.

SEA-NL’s has posted the questions and our answers below. If you're an owner-operator and would like to contribute to SEA-NL's responses, please e-mail me at the address below.

SEA-NL wrote Premier Andrew Furey on Oct. 25th asking him to draw the line in the sand for the province's inshore fleet over the sharing arrangements for redfish in the Gulf.

DFO has estimated the annual total allowable catch for redfish could jump to 40,000-60,000 tonnes by 2026 in Unit 1 and 2.


Redfish Fishery Unit 1

Consultation on Access and Allocations

1) What group most accurately reflects your interest in Unit 1 redfish?

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc. (SEA-NL) represents the province’s licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters, so all future Unit 1 redfish harvesters (fixed- and mobile-gear fleets) falling within those parameters.

2) What factors should be considered for the timing of the opening of the commercial fishery?

The commercial fishery for redfish in the Gulf should not open until DFO has a five-year management plan in place. An emerging stock doesn’t come along every day, and Fisheries and Oceans has the time (given the stock is a slow-growing species), and opportunity to manage the stock sustainably.

While all sectors are optimistic about the potential of the redfish stock, we must proceed with caution.

Extreme vigilance must be paid to the health of this growing stock to ensure it doesn’t repeat the fate of so many other DFO-managed groundfish stocks on the country’s East Coast.

To that end, nothing less than an independent review of DFO management/science is critical to moving the Gulf redfish and other commercial fisheries forward.

Redfish is known for its slow growth and long lifespan; they can live up to 75 years, but only if the science/management are strong, and the inshore fleet vigilant.

3) What principles and criteria are important to informing the Minister’s decision on access and allocations?

The adjacency principle/historical attachment should guide the Minister’s decision on access and allocations whereby those who live adjacent to the resource should be principle beneficiaries of that resource.

The economic impact of the surging redfish stock on other commercial species — including shrimp — must also be taken into consideration.

4) Based on those principles and criteria that you identified in Question 3, what changes if any should be made to the historical access and allocation key?

SEA-NL takes the stand that old sharing arrangements must be tossed out the window, and the inshore fleet (mobile- and fixed-gear) must be principal beneficiary (50%+1) of the Gulf redfish stock — as with all stocks in adjacent waters.

The stand is similar to one taken with the Atlantic Accord, which made Newfoundland and Labrador principal beneficiary of the oil and gas reserves off our shores. The same should hold true with fish stocks.

The remaining 49% redfish share share can be divided at the Minister’s discretion.

5) If you have views or concerns specific to the access and allocation key for Unit 1 redfish that have not been addressed by this consultation questionnaire, please provide them here. Note that input on management of the fishery and science considerations is not being solicited at this time.

The debate over the sharing arrangement for redfish carries over to all adjacent species in terms of setting a precedent for Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore sector.


Again, if you're an owner-operator and would like to contribute to SEA-NL's response to the questionnaire, please e-mail me at the address below.

Ryan Cleary

To sign up for SEA-Nl go here. If you have need any assistance registering please contact Rose Genge at 745-8157.

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