DFO‘s Lack of a Full Assessment Leads to a Roll-over in the Allowable Harvest of the Stewardship Cod Fishery for 2020

St. John’s, July 8, 2020

The Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council (NL-GIDC) believes that the rollover in the allowable harvest for the 2J3KL Cod Stewardship fishery is somewhat disappointing but not surprising. The 2020 Stewardship fishery management approach, announced by DFO on July 7, 2020, includes measures similar to 2019, to ensure catches do not exceed 12,350 tons. The NL-GIDC recommended a modest increase of the allowable harvest level for 2020 of 14,350 t.

DFO Science were scheduled to conduct a full assessment in the spring of 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic only a stock update was completed. This update did not provide any information from the regular stock assessment model or from tagging data. Additionally, there was limited consideration of industry perspectives.

“The inshore fishery has experienced significant impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is now being intensified as a result of an inadequate assessment for northern cod. A rollover for this year’s quota is inappropriate and should be reconsidered by DFO before the season opens,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “All available evidence suggests the biomass for northern cod has continued to increase and justifies the modest proposed increase,” he adds.

The rollover of the allowable harvest results in the fishing mortality for this stock remaining at the lowest level of virtually all harvested stocks in Atlantic Canada. A modestly higher harvest level as recommended by the NL-GIDC would have allowed for increased opportunity to build capacity in our province while having virtually no impact on the overall trajectory of the stock.

Jim Baird, Chairperson of the NL-GIDC said, “It is obvious the harvest level recommended for the stewardship fishery by the NL-GIDC of 14,350 t tons would have very little impact on stock rebuilding, yet DFO decided to go with the lower rollover-level of 12,350 tons. The rate of fishing mortality related to the NL-GIDC recommendation is less than 0.030 or 3% of the total fishable biomass.“

“Continued conservative decisions by DFO respecting this stock will result in the unnecessary loss of economic opportunity for inshore fish harvesters, fish processors and plant workers,” said Paul Grant, the Executive Vice-President of Beothic Fish Processors Limited. “The management approach just
announced is one of the most conservative of all the Groundfish management approaches implemented in Atlantic Canada,” continued Grant.

The Groundfish Council will now work with industry participants and DFO to develop an appropriate Conservation Harvesting Plan for the 2J3KL cod stock for 2020.

The NL-GIDC is an association that represents the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) as well as a number of inshore processors operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. The NL-GIDC is committed to the responsible and sustainable rebuilding and management of Atlantic Groundfish stocks.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Jim Baird Chairperson, NL-GIDC 749-2421