New Movement Demands New Approach for Fisheries Management in NL

Those conservation efforts have yielded the worst landings of shellfish in 20 years, but short-term pain for longterm gain right?

A newly launched website,, is asking for a complete overhaul of fisheries management in NL.

“68 years since Canada became custodian of the NL fishery,” a press release reads, “stock after stock has failed under its fisheries management regime. At the heart of the issues is chronic fishery mismanagement. DFO continues to use unsustainable management practices, and ignore scientific and fish harvester evidence.”

But on DFO’s end, regional director Kevin G. Anderson says, “Fisheries management decisions are made in a transparent manner. Fish harvesters sit at the table with our scientists when reviewing the state of fish stocks, and the results of science assessments are shared publicly.”

In fact, Anderson says Budget 2016 made an investment of $197M over five years in oceans and freshwater science, allowing the creation of 18 new research positions in the province to conduct more research and improve stock assessments on commercial species.

The It’s Time for Change press release also blasted the federal government for letting the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) manage NL fisheries. NAFO is an intergovernmental fisheries science and management body, that aims to assist the “rational management and conservation of the fishery resources of the NAFO Convention Area.” (That area includes NL waters.)

They want the Government of Canada to withdraw from the NAFO Convention. Indeed, former DFO Director Bob Applebaum once said, “NAFO reforms would hamper efforts to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent others from reaching critically low levels.”

“Despite 25 years of a groundfishery moratorium and the largest layoff [30,000 jobs] in Canadian history,” the press release reads, “DFO has failed to establish a rebuilding strategy, management goals, and targets for rebuilding the NL groundfishery.”

That’s … a little sweeping. There is a DFO website devoted to “Integrated Fisheries Management Plans,” and as DFO’s regional director says, fisheries management decisions are evidence-based, and their ultimate goal is to “conserve our important public resources so that they are available now and for future generations of Canadian fishers.”

Plus, a numbers-based document, “Seafood Industry Year in Review” released this spring has a section devoted to groundfish. There was an increase in groundfish landings of 20.1% in 2016 over 2015. In fact, groundfish landings have been consistently going up since 2012, so he have to hope that means healthier stock size. The report states a notable rise in landings for cod and flounders in particular, up 51.9% over last year, largely thanks to the expansion of the Northern Cod inshore fishery.

So, someone’s done something go get the cod stocks back from the brink? That said, as the It’s Time for Change movement points out, how did we let shrimp get to such a bad place recently? “Species, including crab, shrimp and capelin stocks under DFO’s control have collapsed,” they say, infering that “DFO management has proven that it cannot be trusted to fix what has been broken.”

They’re not wrong that the shellfish industry; the shrimp and snow crab fisheries are hurting right now, but the lower landings are the result of management-imposed quota reductions, meant to ensure the conservation of those species, and therefore the long term viability of those fisheries … so, that;s just good management, right? Feel free to correct me in the comments, but lowering population numbers should mean quota reductions; that’s just good management.

Yes, it’s horrible that the landed value of our shellfish industry was down $568 million in 2016 on account of temporarily lowered quotas. Those conservation efforts have yielded the worst landings of shellfish in 20 years, but short-term pain for longterm gain right? Isn’t that just sound management, to prevent collapsing the fishery altogether?

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1 Comment

  • When will DFO admit their plans to rebuild & save the little we have left are not work? Every fish stock in our waters has been depleted & we the people of NL are the ones to pay the price. DFO officials don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t listen to the fishers. The so called fishery officials in Ottawa wouldn’t know a cod fish if you slapped in the face with one. Are you politicians so dumb that you can’t see your approach is not working or is it that none of you really give a damn about the people here on this island. We’ve nothing left & it’s all because of mismanagement on your part. What about the cod fishery? You say that cod is still at a critical stage when the offshore & inshore fishers say the waters are teaming with cod. How come it’s only here in NL that you can’t go out & catch a meal of fish like all other provinces. Have we the only cod who cannot swim? I mean doesn’t all fish migrate between all provinces? Yet people everywhere in this country can catch a meal of fish whenever they want; but not here in NL. The federal gov. & especially DFO is a farce & needs to be kicked the hell out of office…

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