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FFAW-Unifor upset with DFO decision to draft inadequate northern shrimp plan

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

MONTREAL, QUE. – The Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union is criticizing a decision to move forward with drafting a rebuilding plan for northern shrimp that it calls “unachievable.”

According to a news release from the union, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the decision at a meeting in Montreal today.

The union’s members represent the largest stakeholder in the northern shrimp fishery, the release notes. Despite strong opposition from FFAW-Unifor, however, DFO has failed to acknowledge the scientific flaws in their approach.

While FFAW-Unifor supports the need for a rebuilding plan for northern shrimp, the union argues the current method is unrealistic and needs to be changed.

The release explains the problem lies in the recovery objective of the current plan, which sets the reference point at a time when northern cod stocks and other groundfish species were at their lowest.

The marine environment has since change - something that is not reflected in the reference point for northern shrimp. 

“The reference point for northern shrimp is incompatible with the reference point for northern cod,” said FFAW-Unifor fisheries scientist Erin Carruthers.

“These species occupy the same marine environment – a plan for shrimp must account for the impact of cod. It would be far better to get this shrimp reference point right, then build a recovery plan to meet and exceed that target.”

FFAW-Unifor contends DFO is buckling to pressure from the corporate offshore sector, which is insisting a northern shrimp rebuilding plan be pushed through by October in order to meet financial targets.

“We will not commit to inappropriate targets,” said FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan.

“The current approach and timelines being pushed on management are unacceptable if we are to manage this stock in ways that honour conservation and sustainability.”

Inshore shrimp harvester Heather Starkes said the decision is a step in the wrong direction in the relationships between harvesters, science and management.

“DFO is proceeding with the plan while ignoring objections from inshore harvesters,” she said.

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