Canada avoids 3P cod closure but cuts quotas by 50 percent

Published on
April 5, 2021

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada has announced that an agreement in principal has been reached between Canada and France to cut the quota for cod in the 3P zone off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador by 50 percent.

The cut to the quota, announced on 1 April, comes after the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), Atlantic Groundfish Council (AGC), and the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) withdrew from quota negotiations and announced opposition to a rumored closure of the fishery. According to the FFAW, negotiations between Canada and France looked to be moving toward a moratorium on cod fishing in the area, which FFAW President Keith Sullivan said would have “devastating impacts.”

Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan announced that the zone will not face a complete closure, but the total allowable catch (TAC) will be reduced by 50 percent to 1,346 metric tons.

“We know how important cod is to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, both economically and culturally. Currently, the best available science tells us that 3Ps cod is in the critical zone, and we need to act now,” Jordan said. “The reduction in TAC will provide some stability to the fishery, while helping protect the health of the stocks. These decisions are difficult, but the actions taken today will strengthen the fishery and the livelihoods of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for generations to come.”  

Sullivan reiterated the FFAW’s stance from before the announcement, which asserted that quotas cuts aren’t necessary.

“While the cut is better than a closure and provides some hope for the future, a further 50 percent cut is still not justified by the available fisheries science,” Sullivan said.

The union said DFO assessments of the biomass in the area found the biomass index increased and mortality has been at low levels due to reduced quotas in the area. In addition, the TAC was already cut by 55 percent in 2020.

“Fish harvesters support conservation, and for that reason they accepted the 55 percent cut to their quota in 2020,” Sullivan said. “The decision to apply a further 50 percent cut this year indicates that DFO has no plan to deal with the health of the cod stock in that area. It is either cut quotas or closure. Other management measures, such as controlling the seal population, are just not under consideration.”  

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic Groundfish Council/Icewater Seafoods

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