Potential big cut in Newfoundland inshore shrimp quota may create huge controversy

March 6, 2014, 5:21 pm

By John Sackton, Seafood.com 

While most of the North Atlantic stocks of Pandalus borealis (coldwater or northern shrimp) have been eaten away by resurgent cod, in the last decade the shrimp stocks off Newfoundland, Canada, have been at very high levels.

In most areas of the North Atlantic, shrimp stocks are declining. In Greenland and the Davis strait, there should be a reduction of about 20,000 metric tons in 2014.

In the fishing areas off Newfoundland and Labrador, the stocks in the south, which are the mainstay of the Canadian inshore fishery, are also projected to decline.

Although the Canadian fisheries department (department of fisheries and oceans, DFO) has not released their quota for areas 6 and 7, in other years a potential quota cut of 30% was feared.

This did not materialize in 2013, and the quota remained around 60,000t. But this is not going to happen again in 2014. Early indications are that a significant quota reduction will be announced.

The 60,000t quota in 2012 and 2013 was split between the inshore fishery - which supports the shore based shrimp plants in Newfoundland that produce cooked and peeled shrimp, and the offshore fishery which produces frozen shell on shrimp (cooked and raw), sold into global markets.

Last year the split was approximately 41,000t inshore, and 14,000t offshore, plus some experimental fishing.

The problem is that when the inshore quotas were established in 1997, they were explicitly set up to protect the offshore fleet. This meant last in - first out. So if quota reductions were to occur, the inshore fleet which had the newer quota would be hit before the offshore fleet.

With a potential reduction of 10,000t to 20,000t in SFA 6, the inshore harvest could potentially be cut in half, while the offshore harvest would be untouched, unless the sharing arrangements are revisited.

Newfoundland's Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) association is extremely concerned about this possibility. They say the science does not look good, and they have serious concerns about the possibility of significant cuts to the total allowable catch in the northern shrimp fishery.

Union spokesman Jason Spingle told VOCM that they're hearing that cuts are coming to the TAC in Area 6, adjacent to southern Labrador.

There will be a northern shrimp advisory teleconference on Friday, but the union is urging face to face meetings to address this problem. Springle says the union is proposing that the shrimp resource be looked at as a whole, and a fair and stable sharing arrangement be found for both in the inshore and offshore sectors.

The offshore sector, being more mobile, has the ability to fish in the northern areas which may be less affected by a quota cutback.

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