The following news release was issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture this week. It speaks volumes about the total mismanagment of fish stocks happening off our shores.
NAFO Ignores Scientific Advice: Further Proof of Need for Custodial Management
The Provincial Government is disappointed with the results achieved by the Government of Canada at the recent meetings of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). The meetings were held in Bergen, Norway, from September 21-25. The province had hoped that the Federal Government would better represent the interests of Newfoundland and Labrador and achieve appropriate conservation measures that would protect stocks off the coast of this province.
The voting members of NAFO once again ignored scientific advice related to a number of stocks including Greenland halibut, 3M cod and redfish, and 3LNOP white hake and skate. These stocks, which straddle the 200 mile limit are located on the east coast of the island on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and at the Flemish Cap. Ignoring scientific advice in the NAFO zones outside the 200 mile limit negatively impacts stocks which are harvested by Canadians inside the 200 mile limit.
“Clearly, the approach of the Federal Government is not working,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “This is another demonstration that it will always be problematic for Canada to have to vote with 11 other countries to gain protection of fish stocks off our shores. Once again, we are provided with proof of the need for a system of custodial management to manage fish stocks that straddle the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has recommended two years in a row that there be a 15 per cent reduction in the total allowable catch (TAC) for Greenland halibut. This was in line with the advice of the NAFO rebuilding plan agreed to in 2003. Despite this, NAFO has maintained the TAC at 16,000 tonnes for 2010.
The 3M cod stock has been under moratorium since 1999. The NAFO Scientific Council recommended a TAC of 4,125 metric tonnes. Despite this, a TAC of 5,500 tonnes has been established for 2010. NAFO members voted in favour of this, including the Government of Canada.
“Clearly, we cannot even trust our own Federal Government to pursue outcomes consistent with scientific advice,” said Minister Hedderson.
The TAC for 3M redfish will increase from 8,500 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes. Again, this is against the advice of the NAFO Scientific Council, which recommended keeping the quota at current levels for 2010.
The Scientific Council had also expressed concerns over 3LNOP white hake stocks and recommended a TAC of 850 tonnes. This was the average catch in recent years. NAFO agreed to decrease the quota from 8,500 tonnes to 6,000 tonnes in 2010.
The TAC for 3NLO skate will decline from 13,500 tonnes to 12,000 tonnes. The Scientific Council had recommended a TAC of 6,000 tonnes.
“The scientific evidence indicates that we need to be concerned about the future of many stocks that our industry depends on,” said Minister Hedderson.
“Our government is particularly concerned with the results of the 2008 shrimp survey and the dramatic decline in biomass estimates. If these trends continue, the decline in biomass and quotas will have a significant impact on the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. This demonstrates the need for better conservation.”
The Federal Government’s approach to addressing the situation on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks has been to work for changes in NAFO.
“Custodial management is the only viable solution,” said the minister. “Furthermore, our government continues to ask the Federal Government to reject the proposed amendments to the NAFO convention, which seriously threaten Canada’s ability to protect fish stocks inside the 200 mile limit.”
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Media contact: Lori Lee OatesDirector of CommunicationsDepartment of Fisheries and Aquaculture
2009 09 28 1:50 p.m.