The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union says expansion into commercial cod fishing is a possibility for harvesters, as another cut to overall shrimp quotas looms for next season.
'The environment is conducive for growth in that stock ... so there's options there.' - Keith Sullivan
Following revelations by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans this week that the shrimp stock in the crucial Zone 6 area off of Newfoundland has fallen again, FFAW president Keith Sullivan says it looks like another quota cut is coming — but there may be alternatives.
Sullivan told CBC Radio's The Broadcast that there's potential to rebuild Newfoundland and Labrador's cod fishery, which he describes as promising, and being fished at "extremely low rates."
"The environment is conducive for growth in that stock, and that's what we've seen over time, so there's options there," he said. He noted that the warm water that may be hurting shrimp is helping cod.
Another quota cut for shrimp fishermen would likely mean more tough times in the industry, which already saw a big decline last year.
According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the landed value of shrimp in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016 dropped to $276 million.
That's down about $111 million from the landed value in 2015 of $388 million across all vessels.
Sullivan says he knows of a number of people who got less work, or no work, because of the quota and value losses last season.
"It was a rough year for people depending on shrimp last year," he said.
More for the inshore?
Along with a possible cod comeback, Sullivan suggested he'd lobby DFO to allocate more of the shrinking shrimp quotas to inshore operators.
"We've got to look at ways to maximize the value of this resource," he said. "The frozen-at-sea shrimp that's sent off to Europe for processing, that can be processed right here."
Sullivan said there's no doubt that the assessment results shared this week were "terrible news" for fish harvesters and the broader industry.