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Shrimp quota must be shared, group says

Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram<br />Bruce Chapman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers, told reporters Tuesday the association does not believe the last in, first out policy on shrimp quotas in the province should be reviewed, but any findings based in fact would be accepted.<br /><br />
<br />Bruce Chapman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers.<br /><br />

An anticipated decrease in northern shrimp quotas in key shrimp fishing areas off Newfoundland and Labrador this year should result in the same proportionate quota sharing approach established last year, says the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP).

“We must be careful about the fishing pressure we place on these shrimp stocks,” CAPP executive director Bruce Chapman stated in a news release.

“Nobody likes to see a reduction in their quota, but in an area where the total allowable catch (TAC) needs to be reduced, it is important that all fishers share these reductions in proportion to their share of the fishing quotas.”

A major northern shrimp advisory committee meeting is being held in Montreal today. At the gathering, DFO Science advice is to be presented and discussed with industry stakeholders and Indigenous groups. Recommendations for the TAC level for northern shrimp and any other management measures will be made in the days and weeks following the meeting.

CAPP says that in 2016, Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc replaced a long-standing northern shrimp allocation policy with a proportional quota sharing approach.

The release states that while the change delivered a financial blow to the traditional year-round shrimp harvesters, the minister’s rationale was that proportional or percentage shares of a given TAC would enable all shrimp fishing enterprises — and the people dependent on them — to build their plans around secure quota sharing arrangements. While the TAC may fluctuate, the licence holders would at least know that their respective share of the TAC would be secure.

Details of the latest northern shrimp stock assessment were released last month by DFO, with key Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6 off the province’s northeast coast looking grim.

Fishable biomass is down 16 per cent and spawning stock biomass is down 19 per cent in SFA 6, thus leaving shrimp in that area in the critical zone of the precautionary approach framework employed by DFO Science.

In 2017, the TAC in SFA 6 was reduced by 62.6 per cent to 10,400 tonnes after last year’s stock assessment revealed a 25 per cent drop in fishable biomass.

Chapman noted the shrimp resource is also declining in SFA 4 (off northern Labrador) and in SFA 2 (Hudson Strait/southeastern Baffin Island). Scientists indicate these changes in shrimp abundance are driven primarily by fluctuating environmental and ecosystem factors.

The release noted that hundreds of year-round shrimp harvesters and their families in Newfoundland and Labrador depend on their 23 per cent share of the declining quota in SFA 6. While the small quota share is essential to maintaining the reduced number of year-round vessels during the early spring period, it would only keep the large fleet of seasonal harvesters fishing for a single day.

“We are all negatively affected by these reduced quotas, which are not able to support all of the fishing enterprises that are out there,” Chapman said.

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