March 6, 2020
FRCCS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GROUNDFISH STOCKS OFF NEWFOUNDLAND, INCLUDING 3Ps COD
St. Johns, NF -- The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) released today its annual advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for 2001 conservation requirements for groundfish stocks off Newfoundland (Areas 0, 2+3), including cod on the south coast (3Ps).
The Councils report recommends some tough measures for the cod fishery in 3Ps. Closed areas and seasons, and restrictions on the use of certain gears are included as a suite of conservation measures to be applied to this fishery.
"We heard an appeal for leadership to develop a sustainable fishery," said Fred Woodman, Chairman of the FRCC. "While our report provides a starting point, this leadership has to come from the industry itself: only they can change their practices."
"We all had an opportunity to make significant changes to this fishery when fishing was re-opened in 1997. This opportunity was squandered, and everyone involved has to share responsibility for our current situation. Now is the time for change, and without significant changes to this fishery, it is our view that the 3Ps cod stock will continue to decline."
The report departs from the Councils practice of providing advice for only one fishing season. This time, the Council has opted to provide advice for the next two fishing seasons for 3Ps cod in 2001/2002 and 2002/2003. Total Allowable Catches of 15,000t for each of these years are being recommended. These recommendations are for the maximum TAC, and the Council says that it will not hesitate to recommend a lower TAC for 2002/2003 if a marked change in the stock status is seen this year.
"Fishermen asked us to stop bouncing the quotas around. We hope that by moving to a two-year recommendation at a lower level of fishing, we can provide some stability for longer-term planning," said Mr. Woodman.
The Council also proposes to set a base level of 10,000t for a commercial fishery in this stock. Below this level, index fishing only would be permitted. In addition, upward or downward revisions will now be in increments no more than 5,000t. Such a cautious approach will help to prevent euphoric approaches such as that adopted when the quota went from 10,000t to 20,000t to 30,000t in three years, only to have to be reduced.
The report recommends March 1 to June 30 spawning closures of the bank and shelf areas, closure of the Burgeo Bank to prevent fishing in mixed cod stocks from November 15 to April 15, and that gillnet fishery be restricted to the June 1 to August 31 period only. The Council also underscores its concern about practices such as discarding and hi-grading. The Council also further recommends that DFO and fishermen develop an action plan to cleanup lost gillnets, tag gillnets, establish minimum hook sizes to prevent targeting of small fish, and work to develop more benign fishing gear.
Normally, the Councils report on NAFO areas 0, 2+3 would include advice on Greenland halibut, but the Council has chosen to defer this advice in order to consult with industry during its April consultations, and report on this fishery in May.
The report also recommends small quotas for 3Ps American plaice and 2+3K redfish to allow industry to establish scientifically-based test fisheries. It is the Councils hope that such test fisheries will allow the collection of data about these stocks which DFO Science has been unable to provide the Council.
Included in the report is a letter containing recommendations for those groundfish stocks managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) which was provided to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in August 2000, prior to the September Annual Meeting of NAFO.
Michel G. Vermette
Executive Director, FRCC