Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) released the management plan for this year’s Northern Cod stewardship fishery. While the most recent stock assessment showed that the modest stewardship fishery had no impact on the trajectory of the stock, the federal government has set the quota at 9500 tons, a dramatic 25% reduction from last year’s fishery.
This decision ignores socio-economic considerations for hundreds of communities in our province and the thousands of people who rely on coastal resources. It also runs counter to the federal government’s own proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act, which explicitly add the need for socio-economic considerations in fisheries management decision-making.
The 2018 stock assessment indicated that fishing mortality rates in the most recent years are among the lowest levels observed in the 35-year time series for this resource and would not impede stock rebuilding. In contrast, natural mortality rates are said to be at a high level and it is imperative that more research be done to understand the causes, including the impact of seals.
As northern cod rebuilds, very modest increases in the stewardship fishery can simultaneously build capacity on land without having any significant impact on the trajectory of the stock. As it stands, this management plan combined with the northern cod rebuilding plan will leave the inshore shut out of the fishery of the future.
The full DFO management approach can be found here.