ST. JOHN’S, NL - Scientific assessments of the 3Ps cod stock continue to confirm what fish harvesters from the province’s south coast have been saying for years; the 3Ps cod stock is in a vulnerable position as it struggles to rebuild. Quotas in the region have been repeatedly reduced each year, yet the offshore fishery continues to operate draggers on the vulnerable fishing grounds.
The 3Ps cod stock on the south coast is distinct from 2J3KL northern cod and 4R Gulf of St. Lawrence cod. Harvesters in 3Ps have suffered massive cuts in recent years, and the assessment released late last fall shows little improvement from the previous year’s update with the trajectory remaining the same.
“The cod stocks in 3Ps are at risk and the federal government must protect the resource and the communities adjacent by removing 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.
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.
“Harvesters in 3Ps have been signalling that this stock has been suffering in recent years,” said Sullivan. “Allowing the offshore to continue fishing with a quota below 10,000 tons would only intensify the economic crisis inshore harvesters are facing in this area.”
While the stock has increased since 2015, more must be done to protect its growth as well as to protect the livelihoods of those living adjacent to it.
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