Nova Scotia

Northern shrimp quota for offshore trawlers cut by 53%

Nova Scotia's offshore northern shrimp trawlers have had their quotas cut after the federal minister reduced allocations and allowable catches for the stock.

Quota reductions come after 'Last In, First Out' policy scrapped, called 'betrayal' by prawn association

The overall northern shrimp quota has been cut for the 2016-17 fishing season by 42 per cent, with just 23 per cent of the allowable catch going to the offshore fleet. (Robert Bukaty/Associated Press)

Nova Scotia's offshore northern shrimp trawlers have had their quotas cut by 53 per cent, according to the association that represents them, after the federal minister reduced allocations and allowable catches in the stock.

The total allowable catch for the 2016-17 season in Area 6, off northern Newfoundland and southern Labrador, will be 27,825 tonnes, a 42 per cent cut compared to last year's catches.

For offshore trawlers, the quota is only 23 per cent of that allowable catch, according to a release issued late Thursday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. About 70 per cent of the quota will go to the inshore fleet.

A reduction that CAPP perceives as being a betrayal of the federal government's promise.- Canadian Association of Prawn Producers

That represents a total quota cut of about 53 per cent, according to the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP), a non-profit group that represents offshore harvesters.

In a media release, CAPP said it is "incredibly disappointed" in the decision to reduce the offshore percentage share.

Nova Scotia's offshore northern shrimp trawlers have had their quotas cut. (CBC News Graphics)

Not in 'best long-term interests'

"A reduction that CAPP perceives as being a betrayal of the federal government's promise to support year-round employment and investment in Canada."

Quota cuts were expected, given the declining shrimp stock in the region that showed a decrease of about 41 per cent from 2014 to 2015.

However, CAPP said it was hoping Ottawa would make an "evidence-based" decision in the "best long-term interests of Atlantic Canadians."

Northern shrimp stocks declined more than 40 per cent in 2014-2015. The decline in wild shrimp was one of the reasons environmental engineer Keith Driver launched Waterford Farms, near Strathmore. (CBC)

Earlier this month, federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc approved a review panel's recommendation to scrap the "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) policy for the northern shrimp fishery.

Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell said at the time he was disappointed with the LIFO cut, adding the offshore northern shrimp fishery is worth $131 million to Nova Scotia and drastic changes to the policy would hurt the province's fishing industry.

Long-disputed policy

The LIFO policy was put in place when Ottawa allowed N.L.'s inshore fleet into the fishery in the late 1990s, and it meant the last boats entering the waters were the first to lose their quota when the quotas were cut.

Fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador had been petitioning for the abolishment of the controversial LIFO policy ever since, saying the offshore fleet should have lower catch allowances in Area 6.

Nova Scotia's offshore trawlers have argued that since they were the first ones allowed to catch in Area 6 back in the 1970s, they shouldn't be the ones facing quota cuts.

The remainder of the sharing arrangement for the northern shrimp stock will see almost 4.5 per cent of the quota go to St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI), nearly two per cent to the Innu and about one per cent to Fogo Island shrimp fishermen.

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