PINWARE, NL – The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) hosted a meeting at the Pinware town hall on Jan. 31 to discuss the issue of seining near the mouths of salmon rivers.
Local anglers were given the opportunity to voice their concerns on the matter.
Salmon anglers are worried that capelin seiners are hauling in salmon as by-catch because they are fishing too close to the mouths of salmon rivers – such as Pinware River.
This issue was highlighted particularly in 2015 and 2016 – though capelin landings were down in 2017 and fewer seiners were seen.
DFO area director John Lubar hosted the meeting and says there were 17 people in attendance through the two-hour session.
“Given the time of year, we figured 17 wasn’t a bad turn out for an evening meeting,” Lubar told the Northern Pen.
He says in 2015/16, DFO received complaints from anglers regarding seining. At the time, there were suggestions to move the caution signs out further.
“When we proposed that to the industry, they challenged us to show any evidence of by-catch, which we really didn’t have,” said Lubar.
In response, the department stepped up its surveillance and agreed to go over the issue when it had an advisory meeting.
Lubar says DFO is waiting on a scientific assessment, which is expected this May.
Anglers were advised of this during the meeting.
Fisheries officer Maurice O’Brien also discussed the various ways DFO monitors the capelin fishery boats during the meeting.
The floor was then opened up for questions and comments from the crowd.
Lubar says DFO was criticized for having a capelin fishery at all. But he told the Northern Pen that the capelin fishery is based on scientific advice and DFO will have a new stock assessment on the capelin in early May. The 2018 capelin fishery will be based on that advice.
Lubar was unaware if any capelin harvesters attended the meeting, and said it was held to respond to concerns from residents and anglers.
“It was not to open up a debate about capelin management measures,” he said.
Lubar felt it was a good, respectful meeting and that a lot of information was exchanged in both directions.