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Feeling the crab quota pinch in Greenspond

Greenspond fisherman Kevin Blackwood foresees a tough year ahead, after crab quota reductions has him out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Greenspond fisherman Kevin Blackwood foresees a tough year ahead, after crab quota reductions has him out hundreds of thousands of dollars. - Submitted

Kevin Blackwood could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars after cuts announced

GREENSPOND, NL – It won’t be the year that sinks his enterprise, but Greenspond fisherman Kevin Blackwood foresees a tough season ahead.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the 2018 snow crab quota on April 5. This year’s Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the NL region was set at 28,975 tonnes – an overall quota decrease of 17 percent from the previous year.

While some areas saw a marginal increase—for example, 3K is up 2 per cent — others having been cut up to 30 per cent.

Blackwood fishes within the 3L mid-shore area, which runs from Bonavista Bay down through the Avalon. This year’s quota was set at 2,581 tonnes for the small supplementary fishery, and 1,072 tonnes for the large supplementary.

As a result, he said the announcement came with a 30 per cent cut, roughly 54,000 pounds of crab, to his individual and shared quotas.

With this year’s crab price set at $4.55 per pound, it will mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

While his Greenspond fishing enterprise is established, there are still bills to pay, such as the purchase of a new licence.

Blackwood says it will be a tight year, and that the lost income affects his crew as well because half of the boat’s earnings are split among its six members.

While the science pointed toward cuts and he knew it was coming, Blackwood feels a 30 per cent reduction was too much, because it wasn’t reflected by the catch rates.

In 3L, he said, catch rates last year averaged 22 pounds of crab per pot with 18-20 individuals in each pot, which he called “good fishing.”

 “We were thinking 15 to 20 per cent in cuts,” he said.

That, he said, would have allowed for stock recovery while allowing fishermen to maintain a more stable income.

“I’m 45, I’ve got a lifetime left in this fishery and it’s where I want to continue to work, so we’re not out to destroy this fishery,” he said. “We want a sustainable fishery as much as anybody.”

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