Year-round harvesters continue focus on resource sustainability for cod off south coast of NL

St. John’s – Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans held a technical briefing on the latest science assessment for the 3Ps cod stock, located off the south coast of Newfoundland.

“There were positive signals presented in the 2018 assessment and we hope this develops into a trend. That said, the stock remains in the cautious zone, so our focus remains on what we can do today to protect the resource for tomorrow,” says Kris Vascotto, Executive Director of the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council.

GEAC and its members have been relentless advocates for protecting the sustainability of groundfish stocks throughout Atlantic Canada. This has included repeatedly recommending catch reductions regardless of the implications on the operations of members. GEAC and its members believe that resource sustainability is the top priority.

For 3Ps Cod in particular, GEAC has supported consistent reductions in total catch to match the downturn in the stock. This included a 50% reduction in 2016/2017 and further drop for the 2017/2018 season. GEAC and its members have demonstrated a willingness to make sacrifices for the long-term health of the stock by reducing their catch by 64% over the same period. Unfortunately, other sectors have used this opportunity to only increase their removals.

Although the greater than 100-foot sector only has 14% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 3Ps cod, that small share goes a long way towards employment and stability for the industry.

“Our small share of quota is vital in extending employment and securing premium markets,” explained Alberto Wareham, President and CEO of Icewater Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove. “It keeps 210 people working and food on the table during the winter months when no other NL cod is available to be processed.”

Wareham added, “Icewater Seafoods provides NL cod to customers in premium markets in the EU.  These markets operate on year-round contracts, relying on year-round supply. A balanced fishery provides important employment and also secures this market access. At the end of the day, this means better value for inshore harvesters when we buy their fish.”

“A balanced fishery is one that protects the viability of all fleet sectors. We fully support protecting the seasonal inshore harvester’s quota share. But the offshore sector’s 14%, provides good paying jobs for year-round harvesters on our vessels, who also deserve to have their livelihoods protected,” added Blaine Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of Ocean Choice International.

A Fisheries Improvement Project launched by GEAC in 2017 includes an Action Plan designed to help address outstanding questions that are keeping the stock from performing as expected.  In the coming years with the cooperation of mother nature, improvements in modelling, understanding of catch and the role of oceanic change will hopefully help guide a course to a long-term sustainable fishery.

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Media Contact:
Sarah Fleming,
Director of Communications, Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council,
709.725.5830 I sarah@covepublicaffairs.ca

About GEAC
The Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council is a non-profit industry association representing year-round groundfish harvesters in Atlantic Canada. GEAC contributes to research that will improve the sustainability and management of groundfish fisheries by actively supporting science, sustainability certifications and responsible management.

About Icewater Seafoods
Icewater Seafoods is a family-owned, vertically integrated business operating in Arnold’s Cove, focused exclusively on selling cod globally. As the only world-class cod processing plant in North America, Icewater is focused on producing premium quality products for the European and North American markets. Icewater Seafoods has been in operation in Arnold’s Cove since 2004 and President, Alberto Wareham, is the 7th generation Wareham in the groundfish business.

About Ocean Choice International
Ocean Choice International, a 100% family owned and operated NL company, is one of Canada’s leading vertically integrated seafood harvesting, processing and marketing companies with operations throughout Atlantic Canada and sales and marketing offices around the world. OCI employs approximately 1,800 people annually, including those from more than 300 communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. For further information visit www.oceanchoice.com.