Cuts are expected when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) soon announces its decision on northern shrimp allocations for the upcoming year.
The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) is calling on DFO to use the same principles of adjacency, Indigenous rights and cultural attachment it did with recent decisions on turbot quotas.
The turbot quota increases in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) fishery zone OB went exclusively to Indigenous fishing interests in Nunavut and Nunavik.
NCC president Todd Russell said the same principles should apply in Northern Shrimp Fishing Areas (SFAs) 4, 5 and 6 off the coast of Labrador.
“We fought very hard to get into the turbot fishery and we were denied any access to that fishery and the response was the more adjacent interest will get those particular increases,” Russell said. “What we’re saying to the minister is why don’t those principles apply in Labrador and the adjacent fishers in Labrador?”
Russell said they were very disappointed to not get access to the turbot allocations, considering Inuit from Nunavut and Nunavik have enjoyed substantial allocations from shrimp being harvested in the waters off NunatuKavut and Labrador.
“The subjective nature of the application of these principles is disconcerting to us,” Russell said. “When it comes to shrimp, which is so important to our people, we’re saying if there are cuts our quotas should be protected. It’s the same principle going up as it is coming down in quota allocations.”
Russell said maintaining the quotas for shrimp for NCC is fair, equitable, and keeping in line with reconciliation. He said the southern Inuit are very much tied to the fishery and have been since time immemorial but the vast majority of the fishing resources that are adjacent to NunatuKavut and Labrador are more accessible to outside interests.
“That’s just not fair, it’s just not equitable,” he said. “We’ve met with the minister, spoke to departmental personnel on many occasions, pushing for equity in the fishery and we will continue to pursue this.”