St. John’s, NL, March 30, 2022 — The Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) is dismayed with Minister Murray’s stringent decision to close the Atlantic mackerel fishery. ASP supports the precautionary approach but believes, along with other stakeholders, that more science is needed.

“We obviously support sustainable fisheries, and we know mackerel is important in the ecosystem in the big picture. We also want it to be there for future generations to not only support the ecosystem but also the people of the province who are employed by the fishery,” says Derek Butler, Executive Director, ASP. “But we are concerned with Minister Murray’s decision. There is a lack of adequate science as mackerel have changed distribution in recent years, and that has been pointed out before, but not been addressed.”

In DFO’s media release issued earlier today, it advised that recreational and food, social and ceremonial fisheries will remain open.

Butler says that represents a disconnect for the people he represents.

“In a recreational fishery, there is no precise monitoring of what is coming out of the water,” says Butler. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow the commercial fishery to operate to sustain the livelihoods of those in the industry, to support rural communities, and then have a better handle on what is removed based on the total allowable catch?”

DFO claims that future access to the Atlantic mackerel fishery will depend on the duration of the closure and the health of the stock when the moratorium is lifted. Next steps will be considered following the stock assessment in 2023.

“We’ve spent significant taxpayer dollars on new ships for our military, and that is required. But last year we missed the entire fall survey for 3LNO because of old ships that do the DFO science,” says Butler.

He says new vessels for an industry that contributes billions to the regional and national economy is a requirement that the government must address.

“It’s the stakeholders who pay the price when these things happen,” says Butler. “When the science fails or the gear breaks down, or the fish distribution changes, but we aren’t tracking it or investing enough in knowing more. We’ve been a few years now trying to get acoustic work on capelin, another example, and that hasn’t happened yet. This needs to be addressed.”

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Published On: March 30, 2022 / Categories: 2022, Press /