Shrimp quotas favour P.E.I.?

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It’s hard to look at shrimp quotas for Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 7, just off Newfoundland, and not get the idea something funny is up at DFO headquarters in Ottawa.

The quota numbers for the 2013 shrimp fishery were recently announced and, as expected, there were heavy cuts across the board — that is, unless, you happen to be among the licence holders from Prince Edward Island.

Let me explain quickly.

SFA 7 basically runs from Cape Freels in Bonavista Bay right around to Cape St. Mary’s. That area has four groups catching shrimp: the offshore boats, the inshore boats, the so-called P.E.I. Consortium, and the Miawpukek First Nations group. Each year, each of those groups is assigned an amount of shrimp to catch.

In each of the past four years every single one of those groups has experienced drastic cuts in their quota — except the P.E.I. group, whose quota has remained absolutely unchanged.

The total allowable catch (TAC) for all of SFA 7 this year is set at 7,162 tonnes total, down from 10,000 tonnes in 2012 and 15,994 tonnes in 2011.

The P.E.I. group’s quota is and remains at 1,500 tonnes, like clockwork.

Offshore licence holders in SFA 7, meanwhile, are down to 1,377 tonnes this year, which is less than half of the quota that group had in 2011 at 3,230 tonnes.

Inshore fishermen are also down dramatically as well: from 10,514 tonnes in 2011 to just 4,007 tonnes this year.

And the Miawpukek First Nations group will have access to 278 tonnes of shrimp in SFA 7 this compared to the 750 tonnes they had just two years ago.

Looking at that you have to wonder: how is it that everybody is getting cut left and right except the P.E.I. crowd?

Now, if I were a bit of a cynic, which of course I’m not (editors note: I am) I could get to making all kinds of wild assumptions (and I will). I mean, conspiracy theorists might recollect that the federal minister of fisheries through much of that time was an unapologetic lady named Gail Shea from, yep, P.E.I.

Now, I mean, surely, that kind of thing would have no effect on fish management decisions would they?

No, no, of course not. I shouldn’t ever be so foolish to suggest such a thing.

But still, you’d have to say it seems mighty peculiar that everyone has had such drastic quota reductions, while one lone group seems to keep escaping those cuts.

Yep… mighty peculiar.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine,

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