Shrimp review necessary but inshore harvesters must be considered, fisherman says
'When the assessment is done ... set the quota and then we'll go fishing'
One inshore shrimp fisherman from Bonavista Bay supports Ottawa's plan to study the biomass in northern shrimp fishing area six and the controversial "last-in, first-out" policy, but feels inshore harvesters must be be considered.
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Paul Pike, who fishes for shrimp from Happy Adventure on the Eastport Peninsula, says that suspending fishing while the review is completed is a step in the right direction.
"In my opinion, no one should be fishing in area six until they do a full assessment," Pike told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show Thursday.
"When the assessment is done, and things are straightened out, then set the quota and then we'll go fishing," he said.
Pike said the review will likely keep the fishery going, but he feels that the offshore shrimp fishermen shouldn't fish in area six.
"I'd like to see the offshore move out of area six — it's the only area that the inshore fishermen can fish in. The offshore can fish farther north. They have three or four different areas to fish in," he said.
Pike said that he expects inshore harvesters to be fairly considered in the review, as they provide important jobs in many rural communities.
The inshore fishery in Newfoundland, it means a lot to the coastal communities.- Paul Pike
"The inshore fishery in Newfoundland, it means a lot to the coastal communities of Newfoundland," he said.
"We've got roughly 10 shrimp plants, and between the harvesters and the plant workers, you're looking at a couple thousand jobs."
Consultations are expected to be conducted in Newfoundland communities as part of the review, but Pike said that the consultations should have been held long ago, as the fishing season is now about to begin.
"We're going to have fish harvesters out on the water fishing, so who is going to get the opportunity?" he said.
I never seen the shrimp so thick before in my life.- Paul Pike
A proper assessment is the right decision, Pike said, as there are reports that shrimp biomass is down by as much as 40 percent, but those estimates don't match his own experiences harvesting shrimp last year.
"Last year in area six, I never seen the shrimp so thick before in my life," said Pike.
It took just two days and seven tows for Pike to catch his 50,000-pound quota last year, something he said he has never done before.
He said the log sheets that are required to completed by shrimp fishermen show the same numbers.
"In my log sheet, and every log sheet that was out there last year, the catch rates were unreal, so there can't be enough research done," Pike said.
A way of life
Pike said that he doesn't think area six will will have to be closed indefinitely to shrimp fishermen following the review. He believes the shrimp are being forced north be a growing population of codfish.
He said fishing is a gamble, but for him it's a way of life and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"You pay your money and you take your chances. We do it because it's a way of life, it's what we want to do," Pike said.
"There's nothing else for me to do, I wouldn't want to do anything else."
With files from the Central Morning Show