MEDIA RELEASE: 2J3KL Cod Scientific Update was recently released. Important information was not included

St. John’s, April 20, 2020
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans released an update of the scientific assessment for 2J3KL Cod on Friday, April 17, 2020. While the Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council appreciates the effort by DFO-Science in completing this update in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that some important information was not included in the scientific deliberations.

There is an internationally-accepted scientific model that has been used for this stock since 2016. This model provides information on overall stock biomass, fishing mortality, natural mortality and recruitment. All the data required to complete this analysis was available to scientists, but they chose
not to run the model for this update. This model has been the cornerstone of recent scientific assessments of the 2J3KL stock.

Some information that would normally come from the 2J3KL scientific model could have been obtained from other sources. Fishing mortality could have been derived from fish tagging experiments and data on recruitment or new fish that could enter the fishery in 2020 could have been obtained from the Research Vessel survey data. If these analyses were completed by science they were not reported on in the scientific update report. This information would have been valuable for industry representatives in providing advice to the DFO Minister on a way forward for this important stock in a very turbulent year.

It is disappointing that DFO completed this update without any consideration of industry perspectives, input that normally occurs for these types of scientific assessments. We understand that face-to-face meetings would have not been appropriate, but this process could have been completed by video or teleconference.

“With the difficult year we are all facing it is imperative that all available information be used to inform management decisions”, said Jim Baird, the Independent Chairperson of the Groundfish Council. Paul Grant, the Executive VP of Beothic Fish Processors Limited added, “This will clearly be an issue at the upcoming Northern Cod management meeting”.

Jim Baird
Independent Chairperson

P.O. Box 1353, Stn. C St. John’s, NL A1C 5N5