FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FFAW Calls on Minister to Reject Recommendation for Closure of 3Ps Cod Fishery

March 21, 2021– FFAW-Unifor is calling on the Honourable Bernadette Jordan to reject a recommendation to close the 3Ps cod fishery, which is located on the province’s South Coast. Despite DFO’s 2020 assessment of 3Ps indicating that the biomass index increased, the prediction of further growth for 2021, and that fishing mortality has been at very low levels due to reduced quotas for 3Ps, the Minister of Fisheries has been presented with a mandate for the possible closure.

Millions of dollars worth of cod is landed on the South Coast on an annual basis, and inshore fish harvesters in 3Ps rely on the fishery to support multispecies enterprises. It supports hundreds of local enterprises and their crew members, a number of whom are almost entirely dependent on cod, and have no access to snow crab or lobster. If the proposed closure is implemented, it would be devastating to a region already hard hit by
our province’s economic challenges during the pandemic.

“The closure of this fishery will have devastating impacts, many of which DFO has not considered. Cod is a key part of the overall picture that makes up the fishery of the South Coast,” said Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor. “Many harvesters depend upon this stock. It is a meaningful part of their income, and many do not have a license to access shellfish to supplement that income.”

DFO’s 2020 stock assessment of 3Ps cod noted that it is high natural mortality rates, not fishing, which is driving the health of the stock. The seal herd on the South Coast of the province has grown to record levels, and is known to consume large amounts of cod, as well as spread parasites among the fish. The seal herd in the area is part of a continued migration from Nova Scotia and Maine, where the cod fishery was consumed into near extinction by seals. As with seals in the North, there have been no efforts by the federal government to limit seal predation on the cod stocks.

In 2020, the 3Ps cod quota was set at 2,691 tons, a reduction of more than 55% from 2019. A full closure of the cod fishery in 3Ps would not only be an economic catastrophe for harvesters the area, but hundreds more fish processing workers – such as the 225 workers at Icewater Seafoods Ltd., a cod plant located in Arnold’s Cove, and also the largest employer in the town. A closure would affect other fisheries and result in related businesses closing, lower earnings, further rural outmigration, social challenges, bankruptcies, and a heavier reliance on provincial and federal support programs. All of which are a remarkable challenge to the federal government’s vision for a blue economy.

“Fish harvesters need support from the federal government, not further punishment. Fish harvesters believe in conservation and have taken cut after cut to their quota,” Sullivan stated. “These cuts to harvesters will now have been in vain. I have made this point clear to the Minister Jordan’s office, to Minister O’Regan, to Churence Rogers, and to the Premier. We will not accept the well-being of fish harvesters being sacrificed to the well – being of seals. That is not acceptable.”

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