Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) presented a technical briefing to industry on the most recent science assessment for the 3Ps cod stock on the south coast of our province.
The 3Ps cod stock on the south coast is distinct from 2J3KL northern cod and 4R Gulf of St. Lawrence cod. The 3Ps stock is trending differently than cod stocks in other areas of the province, and as a result harvesters have suffered massive cuts greater than 50 per cent over the last two years. This year’s assessment shows little improvement from last year’s update with the trajectory remaining the same.
“The cod stocks in 3Ps are in a vulnerable state and the federal government must protect the resource and the communities adjacent by removing the offshore draggers from fishing in the area,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
Despite strong opposition from FFAW-Unifor, the offshore fishery continues to operate during times of high aggregation pre-spawning periods, threatening the rebuilding stock. When the stock was at its most vulnerable in the 90’s the offshore did not participate in the fishery. Yet today, the federal government has allowed draggers to maintain operations in this area.
“The 3Ps region is struggling economically, and without this small quota of cod many of the enterprises in our area won’t survive. The draggers will just move onto another area or another fishery, but where are we supposed to go?” said Alfred Fitzpatrick, FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council member and fish harvester from Garnish.
In May of last year, the offshore fleet voluntarily suspended their MSC certification for 3Ps cod prior to an audit planned for later that year. This audit would have undoubtedly resulted in the offshore having the certificate suspended, and would have supported the concerns repeatedly raised by FFAW-Unifor that the offshore draggers should not be operating in the vulnerable 3Ps area.
“Inshore harvesters and our coastal communities must be the primary beneficiaries of the stock, and future management decisions must take into account the socioeconomic considerations of the people adjacent to the resource,” concluded Sullivan.
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