Nfld. & Labrador

Shrimp fishery reprieve? Industry proposal would avoid cuts this year

In a surprise move, the offshore and inshore shrimp fleets have unanimously approved a plan that would see no cuts to shrimp quotas in fishing areas off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador this year.

The offshore and inshore shrimp fleets have unanimously approved a plan that would see no cuts to shrimp quotas in fishing areas off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015.

In a move that can only be classified as stunning, the two sides presented the plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at a federal shrimp advisory meeting in Montreal on Wednesday.

Bruce Chapman, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP), which represents the offshore shrimp licence holders, said all that remains is for federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea to sign off on the plan.

“I have little doubt the minister will approve the recommendation,” Chapman told CBC Radio’s Fisheries Broadcast

“We had a look at the science results two weeks ago and the science results indicated the all-important shrimp fishing area 6 biomass has stabilized for 2015,” Chapman said. 

"Based on that … there was unanimous agreement around the table, there was a recommendation for the status quo total allowable catch. So there would be no quota cuts for 2015."

A valuable fishery

The move, if approved by Shea, would basically mean the survival of the inshore shrimp fishery for at least another year. The shrimp fishery as a whole is worth about one third of the entire $600 million in landed value for the province’s fishery, but the inshore fleets fuel about 3,000 jobs, mostly in rural parts of the province.

A deal this year, however, would not mean that the much-debated last in, first out policy is off the table. The policy, commonly called LIFO, has been at the heart of the standoff.

It basically calls for any cuts that are made to be targeted at the inshore harvesters first, since the offshore fleets were in the shrimp fishery before them.

LIFO not solved: Sullivan

FFAW President Keith Sullivan says if Shea approves the recommendation, it’s good news for the shrimp fishery — but only for this year.

He said the battle over the sharing of the northern shrimp resource remains.

“That’s a slight positive,” Sullivan said of the recommendation to maintain status quo for shrimp quotas for 2015.

“But whatever the science says we have to address the management issues and that’s to get away from the fabrication called LIFO and get back to managing for the people who live closest to the resource. We could be faced with the exact same thing next year with significant cuts on the table and inshore taking 90 per cent and the offshore taking just 10. Big, big changes have to happen.”

Sullivan said Wednesday’s rally in Gander conveyed the message clearly that the current management policy around shrimp has to go.

“We were in Gander for a reason. We had hundreds and hundreds of people out for a rare show of unity,” Sullivan said of the rally.

“Everybody recognizes the value the inshore shrimp fishery has for Newfoundland and Labrador. We really need to focus on getting the management principles changed.”

‘Rational discussion’ needed: Chapman

Chapman says CAPP still believes LIFO could and should apply in the future, but he says there’s room to talk about how the shrimp fishery is managed.

“We’re very interested in a rational discussion of the merits of the issues,” he said. “Adjacency is something we agree with because we are adjacent too. Let’s discuss the issues and consider what’s best for the province of Newfoundland (and Labrador).

“We all want a strong and stable fishery as best we can. I’m very happy if the resource has paused and can remain stable for the next period so both the year-round and seasonal fishery can co-exist quite well.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Baker

Fisheries

Jamie Baker hosts The Broadcast each weekday on CBC Radio.

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