Crab and shrimp being decimated by fish, Dumaresque says

James
James McLeod
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Insists cod quotas need to go up to avert disastrous collapse of shellfish

Liberal leadership candidate Danny Duma­resque says fishermen need to catch a lot more cod very quickly or run the risk of a fisheries collapse that will be “10 times what it was in 1992.”

But fisheries scientist George Rose says the kind of thinking coming from Dumaresque and other people in the fishing industry is total hubris and recklessly irresponsible.

Essentially, Dumaresque is worried that as cod stocks rebound, they’ll eat too much crab and shrimp — species that form the backbone of the modern Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.

“There’s millions of cod. The cod is back, and it’s killing the crab and shrimp species,” Dumaresque said. “We have built an industry — a billion-dollar industry — on shrimp and crab and if we think we had a disaster in 1992 when we lost the cod, we’re going to have a bigger one if we don’t get the cod out of the water.”

Dumaresque said the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization cod quotas for international waters already outstrip Canadian quotas by a wide margin, and the federal government needs to play catch-up.

“It’s a practical thing,” he said. “It’s a way of industrial development. It’s a way of managing a fishery properly. We’ve got to take this fish out of the water.”

But Rose, who has been doing fisheries research for almost 30 years and is the fisheries conservation chair at the Marine Institute, said that approach is wrong.

“That’s nonsense,” he said. “I mean, that is trying to engineer a very complex marine ecosystem and we just cannot do that, and it’s foolish to think that we could.”

Rose said cod are indeed making a comeback, and the crab is declining, but that doesn’t mean one is causing the other.

“Of course some cod eat crab — of course they do — and the more cod that there are, likely the more they will eat,” he said. “But the studies that have been done — and there have been a number of them, detailed studies done — do not indicate that cod eat a lot of crab in our ecosystem. They’re a minor part of their prey.”

In fact, Rose said the decline in crab stocks has more to do with climate change than with predation.

“The main driver of this is not one species eating another one or whatever. The main driver of this is change in the ocean climate, change in the basic ecosystem,” he said. “The crab and shrimp are cold water species.”

Rose said scientists don’t know exactly why it’s happening, but crab “recruitment” isn’t happening, and it hasn’t been happening for a number of years.

He said there are still plenty of fully grown crab, but without new crab coming into the system, the population is declining.

“What concerns science is the lack of recruitment, the lack of new crab coming into the system. And that hasn’t been good for quite some time, it’s near a decade,” Rose said. “They’re just not making it, and we don’t know why. From the science side, we don’t know why that’s happening, but we suspect it’s related to a warming of the ecosystem.”

He said that while scientists don’t know exactly what’s causing it, the decline in crab is tied to warmer waters.

Dumaresque said he’s convinced the situation is serious enough that if he’s elected Liberal leader, and then he’s elected premier, he’ll take on the job of fisheries minister as well, and take it up with Ottawa.

“We’ve got a billion-dollar industry simply because of those two species, and if we lose them, I guarantee the economic repercussions will be 10 times what it was in 1992,” Dumaresque said. “I would take the responsibility of fisheries minister. It’s not uncommon for premiers to take departments, but it would be the first time that a premier of Newfoundland would take on the fisheries portfolio, and I would do that, because I really believe that the most important industry in this province is the fishery.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, Marine Institute

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    September 12, 2013 - 19:19

    If voting Liberal means that we'll get the likes of Dumaresque and Eddie Joyce in Cabinet, then the Tories are not looking so bad anymore.

  • Dwayne Cull
    September 12, 2013 - 18:20

    I can't say for sure what Cod are eating....but let nobody have any doubt that Cod have increased in astronomical numbers in the last few years. During the Sentinal fishery, commercial fishery and recreational fishery, all participants are seeing cod in numbers they haven't seen for decades or more. And not just in a few bays but all over Newfoundland and Labrador. What is it we want out of it anyway? I suspect governments want it to return to levels where they can give it away to foreigners, while our fishermen and citizens get the scraps!

  • Dwayne Cull
    September 12, 2013 - 18:19

    I can't say for sure what Cod are eating....but let nobody have any doubt that Cod have increased in astronomical numbers in the last few years. During the Sentinal fishery, commercial fishery and recreational fishery, all participants are seeing cod in numbers they haven't seen for decades or more. And not just in a few bays but all over Newfoundland and Labrador. What is it we want out of it anyway? I suspect governments want it to return to levels where they can give it away to foreigners, while our fishermen and citizens get the scraps!

  • Tim Jamison
    September 12, 2013 - 17:24

    The fact that this man thinks that oceanic ecosystems can be managed by human beings shows his ignorance, his arrogance, and his willingness to speak and act without due care. He is NOT FIT TO GOVERN

  • Arch
    September 12, 2013 - 12:40

    So he sells his fish plants because the business is too hard and now he wants to get elected to tell others to do more fish business?????

  • Big K
    September 12, 2013 - 10:59

    What. An. Idiot.

  • Krista
    September 12, 2013 - 10:54

    This is so ignorant it's laughable. If it were this simple to solve an ecological issue fisheries management would sure be easy! It seems people never learn from history...you can't kill one species to balance another, the food web is far too complex for such a basic approach to work. And as Dr. Rose stated, climate change is the real issue. People don't seem to realize just how drastic the impacts are in our oceans already.

  • Jill
    September 12, 2013 - 10:37

    Finally someone looking out for the fishery. It has been a long time since we had someone speak up and fight for the fisher people. We need someone like Danny to fight for rual Newfoundland.

    • Laughable
      September 12, 2013 - 12:17

      Bah ha ha ha ha. That's the best joke I heard all day.

    • Joy
      September 25, 2013 - 05:55

      Sarcasm? Please, let it be.

  • Fred Penner
    September 12, 2013 - 10:37

    Dear Santa You can keep all of my toys but please don't let Danny get elected. Your Friend Fred

  • Fred Penner
    September 12, 2013 - 10:36

    Dear Santa You can keep all of my toys but please don't let Danny get elected. Your Friend Fred

  • mark
    September 12, 2013 - 09:38

    I think they are both wrong. If everybody stopped playing around with mother nature, the proper balance of the different species would correct itself.

  • winston roberts
    September 12, 2013 - 09:34

    I think they are both wrong. If everybody stopped playing around with mother nature, the proper balance of the different species would correct itself.

  • winston roberts
    September 12, 2013 - 09:33

    I think they are both wrong. If everybody stopped playing around with mother nature, the proper balance of the different species would correct itself.

  • harpy
    September 12, 2013 - 09:18

    didn't we say the same thing about seals eating all the codfish. Now that we have a major decrease in the seal harvest - cod numbers are increasing.

  • Mr. John Crosbie your input of knowledge,on why Ottawa has structured the fishery the way it has, would be greatly appreciated.
    September 12, 2013 - 08:40

    Mr. John Crosbie we have been waiting patiently for you to speak up on why there is so much foreign fishing carried out legally for decades on our door steps; and especially since 1992 when the moratorium was imposed on Newfoundland and Labrador fishers. I feel you can tell us a lot about why the fishery is structured the way it is by Ottawa since you were the Fisheries Minister in 1992. My opinion is that Ottawa saw right from the beginning that the 'fish' resource was the perfect resource to conduct international trade. It was more important for it to utilize the fish as a 'conductor' for it to trade off internationally its purposely grown surplus of manufactured and agriculture goods. Ottawa has been conducting trade on the back of our fish resource for years and it wants to continue doing so, that is the reason Ottawa wants the present government to sign-off on the CETA Agreement. We, the electorate, of Newfoundland and Labrador have to stand FIRM and say no more giveaway of our fish resource.

  • Don
    September 12, 2013 - 08:30

    Anything for a vote Danny. Fear mongering will not get you elected. You're beginning to sound like Joey Smallwood who would spread false rumors in order to gain votes.

  • KD
    September 12, 2013 - 08:03

    What a joke this guy is i suppose if his mouth is constantly moving he is bound to put his foot there sometimes

  • Jon
    September 12, 2013 - 07:42

    Scientist make more mistakes in a month than this one politician will make in a life time. They don't know what is happening with new crab, isn't it plausible then that the cod are eating them up? Climate change yes it does have an affect, but I don't think it would have that much of an affect that they, the scientist can rule as the only cause.

    • Is that a joke?
      September 25, 2013 - 21:58

      First of all no that is not possible since cod don't feed on crab larvae and rarely on new juveniles. It has already been shown that new crab recruits are having trouble building their shells in the new ocean climate. Second of all, this Danny guy's statement has more gigantic mistakes in it than most scientists would make in a lifetime. So there goes that theory haha

  • Ted
    September 12, 2013 - 07:37

    Harp seals eat more crab than anyone could imagine. We've cut them open with stomach fulls of 40-50 crab!! If we start killing predators to save the insects of the sea then seal should be #1 on the hitlist

  • Too Funny
    September 12, 2013 - 07:33

    "if he’s elected Liberal leader, and then he’s elected premier,...". Fortunately, that's two big "ifs" that we need never worry about.

  • Calvin
    September 12, 2013 - 07:28

    The Liberals may be making a comeback, but the only way it will last is if Cathy wins the Liberal leadership. The last Danny to lead our province was pretty good, this one is a joke. I think I'll go with the fisheries scientist with 30 years experience here, not the politician screaming about the decline in crab being the fault of the PC government, haha.

  • original townie
    September 12, 2013 - 06:54

    Nothing more dangerous than an uneducated, ignorant man. Mr. Dumaresque....where are your scientific facts to back up your allegations? Maybe for once human beings are partly to blame considering our harvesting of crab. May not be the cod after all. Both species have coexisted for thousands of years until we figured out a way to exploit. You for Liberal leader then premier. We'll have to save the Newfoundland species of humans. Please find an empty crab shell and climb in.

  • timothy
    September 12, 2013 - 06:00

    Fantastic! If eat crab and less crab are coming into the system then it is untrue for science to say that cod are not causing this reduction. In part - they agreed that it is part of the problem. The other part they don't know - but they seem to think they know what it is not - though they agree cod eats shrimp... 30 years studying the fishery and Dumaresque is the one coming out with the numbers... He knows what is going on and I would pay money to see him battle with the feds over our fishery. We need him in rural Newfoundland. We need a fighter.

  • Linda
    September 12, 2013 - 05:18

    Tell me Mr Dumaresque, why did you sell your fish plant? oh that right you said it was nothing but a headache, So your trying to tell the people you wants to help them, concerning the fisheries, when you couldn't help yourself. LOL

    • Derrick W
      September 12, 2013 - 11:09

      LOLOL Good one Linda. Just the sound of his voice goes right through me !!! I hope on election night when he polls in last place that he'll just shut up and disappear for good. Such a tool.