Nfld. & Labrador

Abolish LIFO shrimp policy and replace with new regime, panel says

A panel on the Last In, First Out shrimp policy has recommended abolishing the controversial LIFO policy and replacing it with a new way of allocating quotas.
The federal review panel says Ottawa should find a new way to allocate shrimp quotas. (CBC)

A panel on the Last In, First Out shrimp policy has recommended abolishing the controversial LIFO policy and replacing it with a new way of allocating quotas.

An advisory panel report released Tuesday says the current policy is not sustainable, adding it does not "provide the basis for all sectors of the industry to plan and adjust to changing realities and does not promote sufficient ownership and stewardship of the resource by all involved."

Instead, the panel is recommending a new allocations regime which includes permanent proportional sharing for shrimp fishing areas. 

Lyndon Small, a shrimp fisherman based out of La Scie, and president of the Independent Fish Harvesters Association, said the report is great news.

"I feel like this huge dark cloud that's been hanging over the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador is starting to leave, and the future is looking a lot brighter today," he told CBC Radio's The Broadcast on Tuesday.

The battle over shrimp quotas was the subject of public rallies and advertising campaigns by both sides. (CBC)

A win for the inshore

The decision is a win for the inshore vessel operators in this province, who were highly critical of the LIFO policy and said it had a detrimental affect on their livelihoods and communities.

The Last In, First Out policy meant that smaller inshore boats had to leave fishing areas first when quotas were cut, while larger offshore vessels were allowed to remain. 

Offshore factory freezer trawlers were allowed to catch northern shrimp this spring, even though scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the stock had declined. 

The policy was the subject of protests and emotional pleas, and on April 18 then-fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo announced an advisory panel to undertake an external review of the Last In, First Out policy.

Act quickly, fisherman urges

Small said the federal government should act quickly to implement the recommendations of the four-person advisory panel.

He sid the government should act within days to set up the new system.

"There's a lot of people that's involved in this fishery, that they want to get fishing and they've had a lot of downtime," he said Tuesday from his ship offshore.

The proportional system recommended in the report would see each quota holder get a fixed percentage of the total allowed catch. That would see each boat's quota rise and fall in proportion to the year's total allowable catch.

"Hopefully, when they look at proportional shares, the department takes into consideration the people who are most adjacent to the resource and are most dependent on it," Small said.

The provincial government said in a statement that they were still reviewing the report and its findings, but were cautiously optimistic about the results.

Read the panel's full report here.

With files from The Broadcast