New Brunswick

Grand Manan Fishermen's Association calls for herring catch study

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association is calling for a study on declining herring catches in the Bay of Fundy.

Catch in 2013 was 6,000 tonnes, down from long-time average of 20,000 tonnes, group says

Connors Bros., Limited blames a decline in the weir fishery and herring catch forecasts for 2015 for its decision to shut down a second shift at its Blacks Harbour plant. (CBC)

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association is calling for a study on declining herring catches in the Bay of Fundy.

The request comes after Connors Bros., Limited announced Thursday it will cancel the second shift at its Blacks Harbour plant this season, citing a decline in the weir fishery and herring catch forecasts for 2015.

Melanie Sonnenberg, the project manager for the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association project, says it is time for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to do an investigation. (CBC)
Over the past three decades, annual herring weir catches averaged 20,000 tonnes in the Bay of Fundy, according to the fishermen's association.

In 2013, the latest figures available, the total catch dropped to about 6,000 tonnes.

This was an improvement over 2012, when less than 500 tonnes was landed.

But it's a far cry from 1978 when more than 33,500 tonnes were caught, said the association's project manager Melanie Sonnenberg.

She says it is time for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to do an investigation.

"We need to have an invested look by government as to why has this shift happened," she said.

Sonnenberg concedes the industry should have been more forceful about having government scientists examine this matter sooner.

Connors Bros., says about 60 jobs will be affected when it cancels its second shift in Blacks Harbour, but positions will be found elsewhere within the company for 40 of those people.

The remaining 20 people, who all have less than five years with the company, "will be recalled only if additional work becomes available," according to spokesperson Dave Giddens.

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