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LETTER: Hope doesn’t float

Crab fishers in area 13 of the 4R region have the unique opportunity to sell to either Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador. The Northern Pen spoke to two area 13 harvesters who say while they utilized this opportunity many years ago, in recent years the price is on par enough to sell their catch solely in Newfoundland and Labrador.  - File photo
- file photo

I write in response to the article, “Twillingate fisherman concerned about proposed changes to crab stock classification” by Adam Randell that appeared in the Dec. 4th online edition of The Telegram.

I agree the proposed precautionary approach for snow crab management is a step, only more a lateral one, and given the state of a multitude of commercial species including snow crab, DFO management and science are in desperate need of a gigantic leap forward.

Fisheries management strategies should no longer look at species individually, but collectively through an ecosystem approach, and the introduction of the precautionary approach for snow crab does not take into account the hammer-like impact of a massive harp seal population or seismic testing.

After 26 years of moratoria and mismanagement, Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore harvesters deserve no less.

DFO scientist Darrell Mullowney acknowledged as much recently during a series of public meetings on the proposed precautionary approach for snow crab.

Mullowney also acknowledged that a working group on the implementation of the precautionary approach was struck in 2012, and included a representative of the FFAW-Unifor. Meantime, the union came out swinging against the precautionary approach, saying harvesters were blindsided, with no idea it was coming down.

But if the FFAW knew about it for six years, why didn’t the union inform its members?

Despite the fact that inshore harvesters were unanimously against the implementation of the precautionary approach for snow crab, DFO’s Annette Rumbolt said there are plans in the New Year to form another working group to push the plan forward.

Same old, same old. When DFO bothers to consult, it’s after decisions have been made.

In response to the biggest concern expressed by inshore harvesters — that the implementation of the precautionary approach will mean a cut to the snow crab quota — Rumbolt said “even though there may be reductions initially hopefully it could turn around and we could be developing a larger biomass in the long run.”

After decades of (mis)managing the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries, DFO bureaucrats have yet to learn the life-and-death lesson that fishermen cannot live on hope alone

Ryan Cleary,

President, FISH-NL

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