FFAW-Unifor is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to reconsider the decision to increase the Atlantic Mackerel TAC by a mere 2,000t despite evidence that suggests the stock can handle substantially larger removals. Fish harvesters in our province have been shortchanged the opportunity to harvest at reasonable levels when observations imply the stock is abundant.
“We have requested a meeting with DFO officials to review this decision and make sure our members’ voices are heard,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
Stakeholders believe that the science is underestimating the biomass and consequently the TAC has been at an unacceptably low level for the last two years. Harvester observations from the past number of a years were put forward in an objective manner, yet these valuable observations were ignored in management decisions.
Observations indicate that mackerel are spawning in the northeast coast as opposed to the southern gulf where scientific surveys are being completed.
“If significant numbers of mackerel are spawning on the northeast coast, then the southern Gulf survey would be missing those fish and underestimating the stock,” said Dr. Erin Carruthers, FFAW-Unifor fisheries scientist.
As a result of this, FFAW-Unifor recently put out a call to members for small mackerel samples (under 20cm long) on the northeast coast that will help us better understand spawning behaviour in this region.
FFAW staff and members have participated in countless science assessment and management meetings over the past several years.
“We have invested heavily into this process knowing what happened in 2016 and 2017 with lots of fish in the water and no quota. This needs to change. Unfortunately, the experience and knowledge of harvesters has been repeatedly dismissed and that is unacceptable. This decision needs to be reconsidered,” added Sullivan.