2013 Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee Meeting

February 22, 2013
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Attendees

DFO:

Non-DFO:

Jacqueline Perry welcomed the group and explained that due to severe weather, flights were not able to make it into St. John’s which is why some people, including Adam Burns, the Chair is absent from the meeting. She informed the Committee that he will be calling in to lead the meeting remotely and that she and Tony Blanchard will act as facilitators.

Adam Burns opened up the meeting and introduced himself as the Chair. He informed the Committee that the Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee meeting will be divided into two parts. Today will focus on the more urgent topics, namely Total Allowable Catches. A second webinar meeting has been set up for next week to complete the agenda. The Chair indicated that in addition to the agenda items, the Department would like to have a discussion on crossing Shrimp Fishing Areas 6 and 7 boundary in a single tow or trip and how we can ensure that harvested shrimp is being recorded as originating in the correct SFA.

There were no concerns with the planned approach for the meeting.

The Chair reminded the Committee that the Department is moving to an online licencing system, and invited participants to stay after the closing of the meeting for an online licencing system demonstration. Online licencing is in place beginning this year, and stakeholders are encouraged to renew their licences prior to April 1, after which point the electronic licensing system will be in place.
A roundtable of introductions occurred.

The Chair reminded the Committee that the TACs in the North have already been established by Ministerial decision as part of the Northern boundary changes exercise. The TAC in SFA 1, through consultation with stakeholders, has been reduced as per recommendations from the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization. As has occurred in previous years, individual quotas will stay the same with the caveat that should the TAC be reached, the fishery in SFA 1 will be closed. Similarly, the TAC in SFA 7 has been reduced for the third consecutive year by NAFO.

The Chair invited Dave Orr, DFO Science, NL to give a recap presentation on the Science assessments for SFAs 4, 5 and 6. The Chair informed the group that there will be additional opportunities for a more detailed explanation of the science presentations next week.

SFA 6

Lyndon Small (3K South Fisher) recommended a rollover.

Earle McCurdy (FFAW) noted that the biomass and the TAC have fluctuated but have sharply declined from its peak. Since the TAC was reduced by 28% in 2010 which was unusual given the 15% maximum, the biomass has been more stable with the TAC around 60,000t. The current biomass is similar to what it was a few years ago which would have resulted in a rollover. He recommends a rollover.

The Chair asked the Committee if an exploitation rate (ER) of roughly 19%, which would result from a rollover in SFA 6, is acceptable given the provisions in season bridging and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) requirements. If everything was bridged, it would result in an ER greater than 20%. He opened the floor to discussion.

CAPP remarked that last year the stock appeared to have increased after several years of decline. They questioned if it was a year effect, and CAPP advised at that time that the TAC shouldn’t increase for at least one more year given the trend of the decline. The experience of the offshore fleet in 2011 and 2012 was better than in 2010, but the stock is nowhere near what it used to be.

CAPP stated that we need to look at total mortality rates instead of just fishing mortality. Fishing is the only mortality under our control. Total mortality in 2012 was 58%, up by 6% from 2011. We can’t ignore this. Total mortality is higher now than it was in 2010, when the biomass was at similar levels.

The current fishable biomass of 316,000t is the same as it was in 2010/11 (310,000t) at which time the TAC was set at 52,387t at a 16.8% ER. We need to be consistent; how can we justify a 19% ER when under similar conditions in the past, the ER was lower?

CAPP continued that MSC for both offshore and inshore fleets need to be maintained. Responding to a signal of increase last year, but not responding to a decreasing signal this year with a 19% ER will be hard to explain.

Based on the above, CAPP recommended the TAC should be in the range of 15-17%.

Phil Barnes, Fogo Island Coop, stated that MSC’s parameters are between 15-20% ER, and as we are at the upper end at 19%, this level would not compromise certification.  It seems that an ER of 18% would be acceptable to most stakeholders. The recommendation of an ER between 15-17% is not far off of 18%, or 19%. Is it worth it to upset communities and fishers for such a small change? He stated that we’ve seen the TAC change is SFA 6 four times in four years. He recommended a rollover, noting that if science indicators next year show a decline, then we’ll have to reduce the TAC.

Ros Walsh, Northern Coalition recommended a rollover.

Linde Greening, NSDFA, stated that last year, the increase in biomass was a blip in a decreasing trend. Last year he cautioned that a rush to increase would result in the position we’re in today, but most people supported an increase. We can’t respond one year on the up but not on the way down to respect the Precautionary Approach and MSC. He recommended a TAC in the 15-17% ER range.

3K South Fisher commented that the North Atlantic is harsh and models of fishery performance and science don’t always line up.

The Chair asked the Committee if using a two year average for biomass is acceptable. The PA Working Group is currently looking at this. The number to be used would be the average of the biomass number from last year and the current year. This framework is not yet in place but he wanted to scope the perspectives of people to potentially use this approach for SFA 6, as it may address concerns expressed by the Committee.

The Government of NL commented that over the last four years there has been hardly any relative stability in this stock. After a few years of fluctuations, now we’re back in the Cautious Zone looking at a rollover resulting in a 19% ER. It does not seem worth it to make another change this year over such as small change in ER. Additionally, both the inshore and offshore fleets had successfully fisheries in SFA 6 this year. Based on these considerations he recommends a rollover.

Derek Butler, Association of Seafood Producers commented that the inshore faced substantial challenges with regard to price. Undertaking MSC has positioned them well. Lowering the TAC is a risk to industry, but not having MSC also presents a risk to industry. While there might be a 1% difference between an ER of 18% and 19%, that’s a lot of shrimp. A 19% ER doesn’t position well with MSC, but 15% is too low. Recommends 17% ER.

Jean-Michel Poulin, Government of QC commented that MSC is in place and markets demand it. It’s important to protect the resource in the long term, as well as to protect certification.

FFAW commented that with regard to using a two year average, anything that smooths out the significant changes and gives stability is worth considering. With regard to bridging, if the bridged amount pushes the ER above 20%, the inshore fleet should not have to bear the brunt of this. He added that if the fishable biomass was 310k in 2010 when the TAC was 61,632t, then the current fishable biomass of 316k justifies a TAC of 60,245t. This wouldn’t undermine MSC.

SFA 5

3K South Fisher commented that the inshore fleet requests additional quota. If any increases are going to occur, adjacency needs to be respected.

CAPP commented that nothing has happened to the science signals to justify an increase.

The Northern Coalition recommended a rollover.

SFA 4

The Chair stated that the ER was increased last year but it is still lower than elsewhere. The ER has been between 6-9% since 2006/07 and the current estimate is 7%.

Aaron Dale (TJFB) stated that they will follow up with a written submission to the Department. Last year the TAC increased by 15%, which is consistent with the IFMP. However the IFMP also speaks to stability. He recommended status quo.

FFAW commented that we need to consider SFAs 4, 5 and 6 as one unit as it is collectively important to people. These areas can’t be managed separately. For allocation purposes we need to try to provide ongoing opportunities for people who have fished here for some time.  In managing one sector, we need to consider what’s going on in others.

The Chair stated he is hearing the recommendation for a rollover. Last year at NSAC, we stated that we should gradually bring the ER to 15%, Should we continue with this trajectory?

CAPP stated it has supported a cautious approach for years. We’ve been cautious in this SFA for seven years, and we now have eight points on the time series and are more confident with the survey. The ER in SFA 4 needs to catch up with other areas. For this case, the maximum 15% change rule needs to be suspended. Looking at the fishable biomass over the last six years, it has increased from 114k to 191k. He recommended that the TAC increase to 19,000t which is 15% ER, which does not include the maximum signal of 191k. If 191k were to be used, the ER would be just less than 10%.

FFAW commented that CAPP is proposing a cut in SFA 6 which would be detrimental to the inshore fleet, but is proposing an increase in SFA 4 where the offshore would benefit most.

Todd Broomfield (Nunatsiavut Government (NG)) supports an increase to 15% ER. The stock is healthy.

The Northern Coalition indicated support for a TAC of 19,000t.

The NG stated they and the Labrador Inuit are trying to catch up with commercial fishing, and increasing the TAC in SFA 4 is a good way to do this.

Multi-Year Management

The Chair stated that the Department is moving toward a multi-year approach to management, meaning that science will still occur every two years. As well, the management cycle will be on a two year basis in line with full peer reviewed science advice, which we also receive every 2 years. We need to agree on an approach for setting the TACs for 2014 only, pending the completion of the PA approach. He proposed that TACs in all SFAs would be adjusted based on biomass estimates from surveys done next year, with the understanding that the 15% rule would be in place. This means that there would be a 15% maximum change upwards and downwards. If the biomass goes down by more than 15%, we would convene a conference call of this committee to discuss how to address the decline. There is also the question of whether using a two year average would work. So we’d use the two year average of this and next year’s biomass estimate to set the TAC.  In the case of SFA 6, this would smooth out the lurchiness in the TAC.

DFO, FAM, NL stated that opinions on this can be submitted in writing or discussed at the webinar should people wish to think this through more. For some, this is the first time they have been introduced to the concept of using a two year average.

FFAW stated a two year average irons out the fickleness of surveys. He’s weary of this approach because the surveys can be inconsistent with the fisher’s experience, so we have two indicators pointing in different directions.

CAPP agreed with the Chair’s suggestion, and commented that in the interim year we’d need a default decision.

The Chair commented that he understands the various perspectives. To the maximum extent possible, the rule that will determine the TAC would be effectively automatic. We’re trying to bring greater stability and predictability to setting the TAC. This needs to be agreed on in advance in order to achieve bringing greater stability and predictability to setting the TAC.

Jackie Perry, RMAF, NL stated that the multiyear process is all about stability and predictability.

Fishing Over Boundary Lines

The Chair raised the issue of catches occurring near the line of the SFA 6 and SFA 7 boundary and passed the floor to Lloyd Slaney.

Lloyd Slaney, DFO, C&P NL gave some background information. In February 2010, they were made aware of the concern that boundary lines were being crossed with the potential for harvesting in one area while attributing the catch to another. Upon collecting more information, there were 14 charges of misreporting between 2009 and 2011, and 13 convictions. They looked at all activity around SFAs 6 and 7 and at harvesters who fished across these lines in their investigation.

Tony Blanchard, DFO, RMAF NL commented that there are two issues at play, where multiple areas are covered in the same trip, or in a single tow. This raises the question if the shrimp is originating in one area or the other, it’s an accounting concern. This is not a widespread problem, but an amended Condition of Licence for 2013 will include only allowing fishing over multiple areas in the same trip if an observer is present. A tow must start and finish in one area, regardless if there is an observer on board.

CAPP commented that this is a significant problem that should be dealt with. He supports crossing boundary lines only when an observer is present. However for the offshore fleet, the observer can record where the tow started and ended. How would this be a problem?

DFO, RMAF, NL responded that starting a tow in one area and ending in another is not the issue. The issue is that if the catch is recorded as coming from Area 4, but most of it actually came from Area 5 this leads to uncertainty regarding the stock. How much catch is taken in one area affects the ER.

CAPP commented that having an observer on board is the solution for the inshore. Why do something that’s not a problem?

C&P, NL stated that the issue is the harvester indicating that more of the catch came from one area than the other.

FFAW commented that SFA 6 harvesters have concerns and accept the proposed COL. Starting and ending a tow in multiple SFAs can distort the effort.

More information will be collected and this issue revisited next week during the webinar. A tow could start just over the line in SFA 6; however most of the fishing could occur in SFA 7. It seems reasonable to be sure it is properly accounted.

The Chair gave the details for the continuation of the meeting by teleconference on Thursday February 28; a meeting will be sent out. This portion of the meeting was adjourned.

NSAC resumed by teleconference on Thursday February 28, 2013.

Participants:

DFO:

Non-DFO:

The Chair welcomed the group to the second part of the Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee meeting, which was divided into two parts because of inclement weather in St. John’s on the original NSAC date of February 21. A round of introductions was made.

The group adopted the Minutes from the 2012 NSAC meeting without comment.

Leigh Edgar, DFO, RM, Ottawa provided the results of the fishery for 2012.

Jerry Ward (BFC) asked about Montagui catches in SFA 4. DFO, RM agreed to send these numbers to the group.

Tim Siferd, DFO Science, C&A gave a brief presentation on the stock in SFA 1.  Discussion followed on the increasing Montagui biomass and catches within the RISA area.

CAPP cautioned that the reference points for the Western Assessment Zone are based on three data points, and we need to be cautious.

DFO Science, C&A commented that the package of PA reference points needs to be reviewed and conclude how many years of data points are needed.

Brian McNamara commented that there has been a large Montagui fishery this year in the WAZ and RISA area west of the EAZ.

Crossing SFA 6 and 7 Fishing Areas

The Chair stated this discussion is a continuation from February 22 at NSAC in St. John’s. It was put on the agenda to gather perspectives on the concern that catches from one SFA may have been reported as caught in another. We need to attribute catch to the correct area in which it was fished. There are two ways to move forward, and this is what the Department is seeking comments on. For vessels without observers, the fishing trip can only occur in one area or the other.  For those vessels with observers, the boundary line cannot be crossed in a single tow.

Points raised during the discussion included that crossing boundaries occurs rarely, and that offshore licence holders have 100% observer coverage, so that should be sufficient.

The Chair questioned if it’s appropriate that one fleet has measures and the other does not, considering that according to Conservation and Protection this is not a problem.

FFAW stated that without an observer on board the vessel should stay within the area. Allowing harvesting to occur in multiple areas where there is an observer is fine, as occurs with the crab fishery. An observed trip in more than one area isn’t a problem.

The Chair thanked the Committee for their perspectives.

DFO, RM Ottawa gave a briefing on the activities of the Marine Stewardship Council Working Group (MSCWG).

CAPP updated the Committee on their MSC activities, noting that half way through 2012, they consolidated the certifications of SFAs 5, 6 and 7 into one with an anniversary date of November 1. The first audit was passed for consolidated certification, which was process oriented. Now they are looking at more complex issues for 2013. The MSCWG will meet in May to look at the preliminary results.

Integrated Fisheries Management Plan

The Chair stated that the IFMP is an evergreen document. Currently the Precautionary Approach for Northern shrimp is being revised. Revising the IFMP will occur once the PA has been completed.

Sam Elliot (SABRI) asked if Table 4 will be addressed in the new IFMP.

The Chair responded that this discussion will occur through the IFMP Working Group.

Ernst & Young Report on Northern Shrimp

The Chair thanked all for participating in Ernst & Young’s external review. He stated that this process was done appropriately and transparently. The report, as well as all presentations and submissions on individual perspectives, has been filed with the Minister. The perspectives of all parties are known, and the process is closed.

Government of Quebec asked what the rules are for those allocation holders who were removed from the fishery under Last In, First out. How do they get back into the fishery?

The Chair stated that while he can’t comment on a Minister’s future decision, in the case of special allocation holders in SFAs 6 and 7, a prorated approach is used. The allocation is from 0 - 100%, with 0% being in the range prior to their entering the fishery.   Using the example of Fogo, the Chair described that in 1999 when the Total Allowable Catch was 58,632t, Fogo held no special allocation. When the TAC next increased to 61,632t, Fogo received 1,000t. When the TAC fell to 52,387t, they had no allocation. When the TAC increased to 60,632t, they received an allocation relative to where they would be on a continuum to 100%.

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador asked if the Department will formally respond to Ernst & Young’s report?

The Chair responded that the report was provided to the Minister and will be used to inform his decisions. He was not aware if the Minister will do a formal response.

DFO, Resource Management, Ottawa gave an update on the activities of the Precautionary Approach Working Group. 

The Chair commented that the PAWG will report back to NSAC in 2015, to adopt and use a PA as the management framework for Northern shrimp. There will be opportunities for all stakeholders to contribute to this process.

Update on Changes in the North

Sandra Courchesne, RM, Ottawa gave an update on changes in the North, which has been ongoing since 2010 with stakeholders.

On December 14, 2012, the Minister approved the boundaries for the three new SFAs. These new SFAs will facilitate management measures for everything other than TAC. The Minister also approved the management unit boundaries which comprise the SFAs, as well as the Science Assessment Zones, which form the basis of the TAC recommendations.

The Chair commented that this has been a lengthy and detailed process with considerable consultation with stakeholders.  As we move forward, we’ll make sure that TACs are updated in a timely fashion. Dealing with multiple jurisdictions with decision making capacities is complex and decisions take time.

CAPP had several comments:

CAPP requested that maps on the new boundaries be provided.

CAPP questioned the wording of ‘fixed’ share as opposed to just share. Fixed implies a percentage, or something that will continue year over year.

CAPP commented that the TAC for Montagui in the Eastern Assessment Zone is split with 1,100t allocated to the offshore as bycatch in Davis Strait West, and 1,150t to be shared between Nunavut and Nunavik East. CAPP requests a provision in the IFMP that the bycatch requirement in the future for the traditional fleet take precedence over this new 1,150t, because if the TAC goes down, they may not have enough Montagui to harvest their full Borealis allocation.

CAPP stated that the 2,250t TAC for Montagui is based on outdated survey points. The 2012 data suggests an increase so great that it isn’t possible that this growth is from resident stock. The real biomass was approaching Blim, and considering this uncertainty, this 2,250t TAC is too high. This needs to be reduced for 2014/15.

For the Western Assessment Zone, the TAC is 5,000t Montagui and 1,500t Borealis. CAPP is still not comfortable with the reliability of the survey and that Montagui isn’t shifting back and forth, potentially leading to double counting. He recommended that the exploitation rate not exceed 7-8% until they have more information.

The Chair commented that finding an approach to consult with the Wildlife Management Boards to meet these obligations in a nimble way is the overall objective in order to set TACs that are based on the most current science. We’ll be looking at ways to do this. With regard to Bruce’s other points, there is no need to determine actions, and there is time to consider them.

Neil Grieg (Makivik Corp) commented on CAPP’s points, stating that the Management Boards are the ultimate authority. He takes issue with the migration of Montagui from west to east, as well as with the 2,250t TAC, but he’ll consult with his Board.

2013 TACS

The area formally known as SFA 2 for the offshore fleet, including the exploratory area is now part of the Eastern Assessment Zone. These borealis TACs have consistently been rolled over since 1999.

The Committee recommended a roll over.

Other Business:
BFC wanted clarification on Montagui catches in SFA 4 east of 63 W where there is no quota or management plan, where harvesters are seeing an increase in Montagui fishing. He noted more than 4,000t have been caught between July and mid-November.

The Chair noted that there is the need to gather more information on Montagui biomass in SFA 4. It would be appropriate to make this request to Science, which will provide detailed information. He invited the Committee to put forward their views on interim measures pending a scientific assessment.

Jerry Ward (Baffin Fisheries Coalition) agreed that interim management measures are needed. What’s occurring now is contrary to the IFMP and the PA.

BFC, Brian Burke (Government of Nunavut) and Ray Andrews (NWMB) supported the need for interim measures. The Government of NL stated it appears there is no control over Montagui harvesting, which is a localized problem in SFA 4.

The Chair invited all members to submit their written views, which will be shared with other interested parties in the form of a Working Group, to address this issue prior to the start of the fishery on April 1, 2013.

CAPP noted that the way to proceed on this issue will depend on the information resulting from the Science assessment. He agreed that DFO should engage in a process but should not rush towards a new management regime for this situation.  

The Chair commented that the objective is not to develop a new management regime for Montagui in SFA 4, but rather to impose reasonable limitation on Montagui bycatch that meets sustainability requirements, while creating as few limitations to the directed fishery as possible.

The Chair proposed that a Working Group be formed to deal with any interim measures required, and that work to resolve this issue start immediately. The Committee supported the establishment of a Working Group.

The Chair asked if there were any other comments.

There were none. The meeting was adjourned.