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DFO and fishermen disagree over cod fishery expansion
2017-04-10 10:27:01 copyfrom： hits:
Northern cod stocks continue recovering but its levels continue being critical. (Photo: DFO)
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
A Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) report outlines that cod stocks off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador continue to rebound, but are still in the "critical zone," and that catches should be kept to the lowest possible levels at present as a precaution.
Nevertheless, the union representing fishermen and plant workers wants to immediately expand the relatively small commercial cod fishery, saying it would
Meanwhile, Karen Dwyer, a DFO biologist, said that any optimism must be tempered with patience as an unpredictable recovery unfolds.
In her view, it will be about three years before new assessments offer more news of when the ban on large-scale commercial cod fishing may be lifted.not stunt that growth, The Canadian Press reported.
David Decker, secretary-treasurer of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers-Unifor union, said that the cod recovery rates over the last decade "are very phenomenal numbers."
The report found that while total biomass was up seven per cent from 2015 to 2016, stocks are still well below what would be needed to sustain larger-scale fishing.
Dwyer said a spawning biomass of 900,000 tonnes would support a more extensive commercial fishery, raising levels from the "critical" to the "cautious" zone.
But Decker said it is time to lay the foundation for a renewed ground fishery.
Many harvesters have focused over the last 25 years on now-declining shrimp and crab stocks. The provincial industry is not ready to capitalize if northern cod recover, Decker told reporters.
Last year's commercial cod landings of about 10,000 tonnes were up from 4,400 tonnes in 2015. Decker wants to see those numbers substantially raised as more effort goes into creating cod markets and plant space to handle a larger industry.
"We can't wait three or four years, five or six years, until we've got a rebuilt stock because then we will have a fishery with no value to the communities," he said.
A recent report by the Commons standing committee on fisheries and oceans urged yearly studies of the population of northern cod along with capelin, a key food source for several species.
It also pushed for the hiring of more scientists to track cod numbers, and says the Fisheries department should limit the seal population which preys on both cod and capelin.
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