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FFAW-Unifor reacts to snow crab quota cut

FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan
FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan

Big cuts to both snow crab and shrimp quotas will have grave economic impacts in communities and towns around the province, according to the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced an overall 22 per cent cut to snow crab quotas for 2017 today as it released total allowable catches (TAC) for the species.

It comes on the heels of a major cut to northern shrimp quotas announced last week.

In a news release today, FFAW-Uniform says the decline in both stocks is not a result of overfishing but an environmental shift in the ocean ecosystem.

The union suggests DFO must work more closely with harvesters and take changes to the ecosystem into consideration when managing the fishery.

“We’ve long requested that DFO take into account the entire marine ecosystem when making policy decisions. Species are not independent of each other,” FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan said in the release.

“Newfoundland and Labrador is facing a pivotal moment in the fisheries. As shellfish stocks decline and groundfish stocks recover, a well-managed transition period is crucial for fish harvesters and processing plants to make that shift,” he continued.

“We expect a meeting with DFO Minister Dominic Leblanc in the coming days to impress upon him how these decisions are failing the people of our province.”

The FFAW says its negotiating team pushed for higher snow crab prices this year. The price is before an arbitrator who will decide between the union’s price of $4.39 and $4.10 offered by the companies.

Last year’s minimum price was $3 per pound.

FFAW-Unifor says higher prices will offset some of the effects quota cuts will have on harvesters, but there is still a need for DFO to work more closely with harvesters in managing the resource.

The snow crab TAC for the Newfoundland and Labrador region this year is 35,419 tonnes.

Quotas have been cut by two per cent in 3K, 26 per cent in 3NLO (46 per cent in the areas outside the 200 mile limit, and 23 per cent in areas inside the 200 mile limit), 50 per cent in 3Ps and six per cent in 4R3Pn. The quota in 2GHJ remains the same as last year.

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