Broken down coast guard ship delays spring science survey; DFO’s mismanagement borders on criminal negligence

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the delay of the 2018 multi-species survey in waters off the province because of a broken down science vessel is yet another example of Ottawa’s ongoing gross mismanagement of the fisheries.

“Most commercial stocks off our province are in free fall, and the Government of Canada still can’t get the baseline science right,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.

“Ottawa has dropped the ball of fisheries science for years, a failure of responsibility that continues to this day and borders on criminal negligence. No other province would put up with what harvesters take here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

A spokesman for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed the start of the annual spring multi-species survey has been delayed at least two weeks because of unscheduled “maintenance issues” with the Canadian Guard Guard science vessel Alfred Needler.

Sea trials for the 36-year-old Needler — which needed a generator engine replaced, among other mechanical issues — are set to start today, and the results will dictate when the vessel returns to service.

The DFO spokesman said the interruption will not impact the overall results of the spring survey, “and there will be sufficient data to inform science research and any subsequent management decisions.”

However, consistency is key with such surveys, which are usually done at the same time of year, with the same gear and vessel. A change to how and when the work is carried out can severely alter the survey’s outcome, and result in a year-over-year comparison of the health of a stock that’s not valid.

“How can inshore harvesters have any faith in DFO when the science vessels are broken down old clunkers, the science is shoddy and full of holes, and there’s continually less fish for them to catch?” Cleary asked. “They simply can’t.”

Contact: Ryan Cleary 682 4862