BACKGROUNDER: 3Ps Cod
1. 3Ps Cod Sector Shares
- Local offshore harvester’s quota share is only 12% of the total allowable catch for 3Ps cod. In fact, France (vis St. Pierre et Miquelon) has a higher allocation than the local offshore sector.
- The lion’s share of 3Ps cod is caught by seasonal inshore fishers. Offshore fishers have no objection to the inshore’s significant quota share, understanding the need for a balanced fishery, one that protects the viability of all sectors.
- Although the greater than 100-foot sector only has 12% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 3Ps cod, that small share goes a long way towards employment and stability for the industry during a healthy 3Ps cod fishery.
- It keeps 215 people working at Icewater Seafoods plant in Arnold’s Cove during the winter months when no other NL cod is available to be processed.
- It provides good paying jobs for year-round harvesters on local offshore vessels, who also deserve to have their livelihoods protected. Like inshore harvesters, offshore harvesters are hardworking Newfoundlanders and Labradorians working to support their families and communities.
- It allows the Newfoundland cod industry to fulfill year-round contracts to premium markets, securing market access. This market access means better value for inshore harvesters when they sell their fish.
2. Important Facts on Spawning and “Pre-Spawning Aggregations”
- It has been verified by DFO that the late season offshore fishery does not interfere with the 3Ps cod spawning period. In DFO’s stock assessment of NAFO subdivision 3Ps cod, page 4 of each document clearly identifies spawning season as late March to early June. This fishery is open to all sectors through February. (See http://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/40597441.pdf).
- The offshore 3Ps fishery takes place between November and February, clear of the spawning season. There is evidence that suggests that the May inshore fishery may interact with spawning cod (which has been confirmed by DFO Science). The conservation impacts of this are unknown.
- The term “pre-spawning aggregations” is poorly defined and really relates to any aggregation of fish that is not spawning. Generally, the challenge of fisheries management is to ensure that harvesters do not remove too much fish – the timing of those removals is of lesser importance.
- There is no scientific evidence that there is a conservation problem in harvesting over-wintering (pre-spawning) cod when they are in their peak quality condition. Claims made otherwise are irresponsible.
3. 3Ps Cod Harvesting Season – January Harvesting Part of 2019-2020 Season
- The 3Ps cod quota year begins April 1 and concludes March 31 (although it is typically open to harvesting late May through Feb 28).
- The offshore sector focuses on late season harvesting when quality is highest and when product is needed to sustain onshore processing jobs in Arnold’s Cove. For that reason, the offshore sector typically begins its harvest late in the year, harvesting the same allocation and season that the inshore begins fishing in May.
- At this point, both inshore and offshore harvesters are actively landing cod with about 25% of the annual Canadian quotas left to catch. The inshore has approximately 625mt of its 4,121mt left to catch and the offshore has approximately 650mt of its 732mt left to catch before the annual spawning closure takes effect on Feb 28, 2020.
- While the inshore is predominantly a summer and fall fishery with the offshore focusing on winter fishing, the offshore has no concerns with the inshore fishers who can safely continue to harvest 3Ps cod in the winter months, doing so alongside offshore vessels.
4. Misrepresentation of Offshore Decision on 3Ps cod in 1997
It is critical to correct the misinformation from lobby groups making false claims about the history of the cod fishery in NL, including a recent claim that when the 3Ps Cod quota is below 10,000mt, the offshore fleet is to be excluded from the fishery. This is completely false. In fact, the year-round sector was a leader in the sustainability efforts of the stock in 1997 and continues to be today.
Offshore decision not to participate in the 1997 3Ps cod fishery:
- 1997 was the first year the 3Ps cod fishery was open following the 3Ps cod moratorium. Upon re-opening, the offshore sector did not feel the struggling stock was healthy enough to support a fishery at the level being proposed. Based on that concern, the offshore made the voluntary decision not to catch its quota with the hope this effort would offset pressure being placed on the stock.
- It’s important to note that the offshore sector was allocated its quota by the Department but chose not to fish it. Even over 20 years ago, the offshore sector was putting concern for stock health and commitment to ensuring a sustainable fishery for future generations above short-term financial gains.
Inshore decision in 1997
- That same year, the inshore overcaught its allocated catch by about 12%. So, the fish the offshore sector decided to leave in the water in the name of sustainability, the inshore arbitrarily and without any sort of authorization, decided to catch. This made the sacrifice of the offshore sector superfluous to poor behavior by other sectors. It is unfortunate that the FFAW continues to prioritize maximizing catch over protecting resource sustainability.
2019 concerns and priorities
- It’s concerning to see the offshore’s decision, putting the sustainability of the stock first and foremost, being used against the sector by special interest groups.
- FFAW Executive have twisted this 1997 offshore sector voluntary decision as a mandatory exclusion based on an imaginary number of 10,000mt when industry groups know that was never the case.
- The Atlantic Groundfish Council, representing the offshore sector, continues to believe that inter-sector conflict and pitting one harvester against another is detracting from what should be the priority of all participants; building a sustainable and stable fishery for future generations.