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Broken 3Ps promise; offshore draggers still allowed to fish cod when quota far below 10,000 tonnes

Updated: Aug 24

The inshore fleet on the south coast believed for 20 years there was a 10,000-tonne threshold before offshore factory-freezer trawlers would be allowed to drag for cod in fishing zone 3Ps — like the 115,000-tonne threshold with northern cod (2J3KL), or 9,000-tonne mark in the Gulf (4R3Pn) — but DFO says that was never the case.

To date this year, 49% of the 312-tonne cod quota in Placentia Bay has been caught, along with 43% of the 270-tonne cod quota in Fortune Bay. DFO refuses to release data on offshore catches in 3Ps because of the rule of 5, meaning the data must include at least five fishers, vessels and buyers to meet Privacy Act requirements.

Placentia lift bridge.



A moratorium was imposed on the 3Ps cod stock in August 1993, and when the fishery reopened in May 1997 with a total allowable catch (TAC) of 10,000 tonnes the offshore sector did not fish.


That's where the idea of a 10,000-tonne threshold came from.


DFO is guilty of knowing the 3Ps inshore fleet believed the first 10,000 tonnes of quota were reserved for them, and not correcting them.


Until denying them.


That's shockingly poor management, the kind that breeds generational mistrust.


in November 2017 when then-DFO Minister Dominic LeBlanc cut the 3Ps cod quota below 10,000 tonnes he made the shocking decision to allow offshore draggers to continue fishing the stock at its most vulnerable — overwintering on the St. Pierre Bank in spawning and pre-spawning congregations.


The situation is a reminder that DFO promises must be in writing, and hammers home the fact that Fisheries and Oceans policies are all over the map.


DFO says offshore draggers are still entitled to fish their 12.2% share of the 1,346-tonne Canadian 3Ps quota for 2022 — despite the fact the offshore is banned from northern cod and Gulf cod.


Northern cod remains under official moratorium even though this year's maximum harvest is 12,999 tonnes, and a moratorium was slapped on cod in the northern Gulf this past July.


The health of those two stocks, as well as 3Ps cod, have been designated by DFO science as in the critical zone, with fishing to be kept to a minimum.


In February, SEA-NL formally asked DFO Minister Joyce Murray to ban bottom trawling for 3Ps cod, which drew immediate offence by the offshore sector.


In May, Murray wrote back to say there's no threshold for the 3Ps cod fishery that would trigger the removal of the offshore.


DRAGGER BAN MORE MANAGEMENT THAN SCIENCE

The minister also said the different approaches to the three cod stocks adjacent to the province were not based on a scientific recommendation regarding the use of gear types in the directed cod fishery, but reflect "management decisions" taken by DFO in consultations with stakeholders.


Someone obviously didn't fight hard enough for the 3Ps inshore fleet.


While a 3Ps cod rebuilding plan is in the works, SEA-NL has been critical of the process for excluding the inshore fleet.


10,000t THRESHOLD FFAW HILL TO DIE ON

A 10,000-tonne threshold exclusively for the inshore fleet should have been a hill to die on, but then the FFAW also represents workers aboard the offshore draggers, as well as workers at the plants where cod is processed.


That conflict of interest works for no one. Lest we forget.


Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization serving as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. You can read more about SEA-NL, and join us here.


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