(April 6, 2022 – St. John’s, NL) – The Atlantic Groundfish Council, which represents the offshore groundfish sector in Atlantic Canada, applauds the fisheries agreement reached by Canada and France. In particular, the two governments agreed to keep the 2022-2023 total allowable catch (TAC) for the cod fishery off the south coast of Newfoundland (area 3Ps) at the same level as the previous season, at 1,346mt. This decision was part of annual bilateral consultations between Canada and France, primarily in relation to trans-boundary fish stocks in proximity to the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon (see included map).
“We are very appreciative of Minister Murray, who, on behalf of the Government of Canada, supported recommendations of industry participants and stakeholders,” explains Kris Vascotto, Executive Director of the Atlantic Groundfish Council. “This agreement signals a shared understanding that current challenges facing the 3Ps cod stock are due to high natural mortality and are not a result of the very low harvest level that remains very important to fishery participants in this area.”
The continuation of a low-level fishery that abides by the principles of sustainability also provides information vital to the robustness of future scientific assessments, including estimates of fish condition to inform natural mortality estimates, sentinel survey indices to guide abundance estimates, and age/growth information to guide future projections. Without such information, and with continued interruptions of DFO research surveys, the robustness of stock assessments and projections would undoubtedly suffer.
“We are also pleased with government’s commitment to complete an effective rebuilding plan for 3Ps cod by the end of 2022, with the intent for transparent and predictable TAC-setting rules to be in place in advance of the 2023-2024 season,” added Vascotto. Within Canada, industry participants, stakeholders and government began working on this plan in 2021. “There has been a spirit of collaboration and a shared vision of a rebuilt stock that is encouraging.”
“Cod has a cultural and historical significance in Newfoundland and Labrador that runs deep for our company, our family and our neighbors. It is an important part of our future,” added Blaine Sullivan, President and Co-Owner of Ocean Choice International. “As participants in this fishery, we are certainly committed to doing our part to ensure an effective rebuilding plan is completed in a timely manner.”
The Atlantic Groundfish Council and its members are deeply supportive of taking responsible and measurable action in support of sustainable fisheries. This includes:
- Proposing and supporting reductions in the 3Ps cod TAC in recent years, from over 13,000 mt to the current 1,346 mt in order to promote growth of this fish stock.
- Collaborating with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as other fleet sectors and stakeholder groups (including ENGOs) to develop an effective and robust rebuilding plan for 3Ps cod.
- Coordinating a Fishery Improvement Project specific to 3Ps cod that is supported by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, a global non-profit that operates in part to rebuild depleted fish stocks.
“As an industry, we need to maintain a long-term view,” added Alberto Wareham, President and CEO of Icewater Seafoods. “We are very proud to be providing Newfoundland and Labrador cod to premium, year-round global markets, and to be employing 225 local people in the Arnold’s Cove area, while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability of the resource.”
About the Atlantic Groundfish Council
The Atlantic Groundfish Council is a non-profit industry association representing year-round groundfish harvesters in Atlantic Canada. Its members employ thousands of people, in mostly year-round jobs, in rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada. The Council contributes to research that will improve the sustainability and management of groundfish fisheries by actively supporting science, sustainability certifications and responsible management.