The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says the current sharing arrangement for Atlantic halibut has been in place since the early 1990s, and the allocation share provided to the Newfoundland inshore fleet is directly related to that fleets historic participation in the halibut fishery up until shares were established.
The department was responding to a story on The Telegram website Monday in which FFAW-Unifor, the union representing most fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador, claimed fishermen on the south coast of Newfoundland have been put out of business midseason because of unfair quota allocations by DFO in the halibut fishery.
FFAW-Unifor President Earle McCurdy said in a news release that for the last two years the sharing of the halibut stock, that lies in large areas off southern Newfoundland, as well as waters off Nova Scotia, short-changes fishermen from the south coast of Newfoundland.
He said the problem is compounded by a DFO decision to leave the overall Total Allowable Catch (TAC) at a figure far below the level that could be supported by the most recent scientific evidence.
DFO, however, says the department did not change any sharing in the Atlantic halibut fishery in 2011, but in fact has made all fleets accountable for respecting their fleet quotas in all fisheries.
“The allocation share provided to the Newfoundland inshore fleet is directly related to their historic participation in this fishery up until shares were established,” a DFO email states.
“Given uncertainties in the last assessment of Atlantic halibut, the vast majority of harvesters recommended either maintaining the 2013 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) level for 2014, or limiting the increase to ensure the long-term stability of the stock,” the email states. “DFO is currently conducting a new survey and science assessment framework that will enable more long-term planning and decision making in 2015.”