A. This section summarizes the positions and options presented by the various parties. Careful consideration should be given to this section in preparation for future decision making.
NB Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Association des seiners du Golfe (ASG):
Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels inc. (FRAPP):
Skipper and crew members of the Stevianne:
Association des pêcheurs professionnels members d’équipage (APPME):
Resolution of the conflict
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans must begin by confirming if it intends to manage this fishery. If that is its intention, DFO can use the following means:
NB Fish Packers Association:
Each party’s quota (an entire industry depends on it).
Each individual/fisher has the right to fish were the resource is.
Processors have a right to process the fish delivered to them at the plant, regardless of the finished product.
There are no barriers to transportation, fishing and purchases of the product in the Maritimes. It has to stay that way.
PEI Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry:
If this cannot be implemented immediately then the following measures should be implemented:
The exclusion line in effect in 1983, changed by DFO in 1984 through an administrative error, should be rectified immediately. In addition to this a modified line to protect the inshore grounds off the north coast of PEI should be established, as presented on the attached chart (see Appendix E - PEIFA’S Proposed Closure on the North Coast of P.E.I).
A cap for the seiners allowable catch off the north coast of PEI should be set at a maximum of 25% of their overall quota, with an overall daily limit established.
The dockside monitoring of the seiner catches be improved. Sampling from the holds should be a minimum of 3 dips from each hold, at the top, middle and bottom. DFO must increase checks of the sampling done by the monitoring firm to ensure compliance with the undersize fish protocol and required regulations.
In addition to the vessel monitoring system now in place, on board observer coverage needs to be improved. There should be a minimum of at least one observer on board the vessels during fishing operations. Observers should be particularly instructed to ensure that protocols for undersize fish are being followed and that small fish are not incurring high mortalities and being dumped in a wholesale manner. These conditions should be in place before the seiners are allowed to fish at all.
Increased scientific effort needs to be directed to this area. The status of the stocks needs to be scientifically studied more intensely to determine to what extent the local spawning stock is mixing with the seiner catches and how these stocks are being impacted by the concentrated fishing effort of the seiners.
Coalition of Inshore Fishing Families:
Gulf of Nova Scotia Herring Federation:
B. The following is the facilitator’s analysis of what appears to be key and common issues raised during the consultations.
ISSUE: EXCLUSION ZONES
Exclusion zones and boundary lines clearly emerge as the most divisive issue, with the seiners declaring boundary lines unnecessary because of the numerous measures, including closed periods, imposed on seiner activity by DFO, and the inshore fishers adamant of the importance of exclusion zones for fear of the negative impact of the seiner fishery on local stocks, herring biomass, fish habitat, lobster by-catch, as well as its potential effect on other fish species in the food chain. Confusion exists as per the rationale of exclusion zones, with the inshore fleet maintaining local stock protection as the primary reason, while seiners say the zones and lines were originally introduced to avoid conflicts between gear types.
It was a challenge to locate early documents on the herring fishery. Prior to the establishment of the "regulatory impact analysis statement (RIAS)" in 1988 which formally documents regulatory changes, it is much more challenging to find documented reasons for regulatory reform prior to this date. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the archives of some documents in Halifax were destroyed by fire in the 1980’s. However, some documents were located. Considerable effort was directed into searching for documents to explain what some reference as the "administrative errors" of the 1978 to 1984 closure periods and boundary line north of P.E.I. During the timeframe of this process, no direct references to the change in the time closure from August 15-September 15 to year round in 1983 and to the change in the boundary line in 1984 were found.
However, some documents were located referencing the rationale for some restriction zones. A 1971 document entitled "A Review of Management Strategy for Canadian Atlantic Herring Fisheries" written by the Co-ordinator, Atlantic Herring Programme was obtained. Under the heading "Protection of spawning grounds", it makes reference to fishing measures disturbing the bottom and destroying deposited spawn and animals and plants in the spawning area. It further states that "these factors are particularly important for shallow water inshore grounds, such as occur in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and protection of these grounds by closure to moveable gear would represent sound management policy. The use of fixed gears, such as gill nets do not result in damage of this kind to anything like the same degree, but an unlimited increase in the use of gill nets on spawning grounds is also to be avoided."
The minutes of the first meeting of the Canadian Atlantic Herring Management Committee and Advisors of June 28, 1972 also make reference to this subject and include a section entitled "Closing of spawning areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence". Here again it makes reference to "a serious problem created in destroying spawn on the bottom of shallow spawning areas" and that "severe physical and biological damage can be done to the herring spawn in these shallow waters by moveable gear, and these areas should be protected from such gear during spawning periods." There is also a recommendation in this section which reads " known spawning areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence be closed to moveable gear during the spawning periods. The herring biologists are to define the areas to be closed, and the duration of the closure. There is no need to prohibit the use of fixed gear in these areas". It also makes reference in this section that "the seining of herring in the Trinity and Lurcher area does not interfere with the spawn on the bottom because of the depth of the water. This same condition does not exist, however, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where herring spawn in much shallower areas".
A section of another document of this year again makes reference to "the use of gears such as gill-nets is not as damaging biologically, produces a more valuable product and, unless conducted on a very much greater scale than it has in the past, should not be prevented and restricted."
It must be noted that these references must be placed in the context of the herring fishery in the early 1970’s where many circumstances have changed including the quota percentage between the seiner and gillnet fishers. However, the point which may be of interest is the continued reference to disturbing the deposited spawn. These recorded notes suggest that exclusion zones would have been established in order to answer to this concern. Hence, restriction zones were established during the spawning periods and not year round.
Another document, the minutes of the August 24, 1979 Herring Working Group – Gulf of St. Lawrence, makes reference to "purse seiner activity around Souris, PEI". It reads "the demarcation lines to create an inshore fishery in Northumberland Strait are being finalized to include Eel River to North Point and East Point to Sight Point". It also says that "there is no herring fishing gear conflict" and that this area "could be reserved for smaller purse seiners that have less mobility (some say no discrimination by size)". A further 1980 memo states that " the inshore fishermen of PEI who are interested in purse seining, are very upset at their inability to participate in the herring fishery in the Gulf. They have expressed their concern at meetings during 1979."
Three exclusion zones were often mentioned during the consultations with reference to the debate over the exclusion zone in the vicinity of P.E.I. An effort was directed into finding documents that would identify the rationale behind these specific zones in order to explore the possibility of a common rationale. The following comments are based on documented reports and discussions with DFO personnel regarding 4Vn (Eastern Cape Breton), the Magdalen Islands and Baie des Chaleurs. What follows is a summary of information found with respect to the exclusion zones.
An August 1, 1986 DFO News Release entitled "1986 Gulf (4TVn) Fall Herring Plan Announced" states that "it was established after consultations with representatives of fishermen, producers and provincial governments, and provides a quota of 27,500t for the inshore fishery in Division 4T and a quota of 8,675t for the midshore purse seine fishery. The purse seine quota includes an 1,800t allocation which was guaranteed in the 1986 spring management plan. A quota of 4,200t is also being provided for the midshore purse seiners in Division 4Vn west of Point Aconi".
Later, the DFO Maritimes Regional Status Report 97/1 E entitled Decision Rules for Managing Overwintering Fisheries explains the rationale for the restrictions imposed on seiner activity in 4Vn. Based on available science, decision rules were established of which "Decision Rule 4" refers to the "fishing area" and states, "restrict fishing to area of 4T winter distribution, position of boundary to be determined among science, management, and industry."
DFO documents indicate that the inshore fishers from the Magdalen Islands requested a revision of the boundary lines of the exclusion zone of the large seiners in the vicinity of the Magdalen Islands. At the February 16, 1995 Gulf Small Pelagics Advisory Committee meeting, point 10 of the recorded summary of this meeting refers to this subject. It reads as follows: "Closed area around the Magdalen Islands. Inshore fishers are concerned that the large seiners have access to herring spawning bed around the Island, just outside the current closed area. The large seiners sat that they do not fish at the location identified by Quebec fishers and therefore, they do not see the need to enlarge the current box. Later in the meeting, the large seiners confirm to the participants that, as a gesture of goodwill, they are in agreement with the revised box proposed by the Magdalen Islands". Point 7 of a June1, 1995 News Release from DFO announces that "the large seiner fleet has accepted an enlarged closed area around the Magdalen Islands as advocated by the inshore fishers for the past three years. A variation order has been issued to that effect." However, no documents were located making reference to the closure period.
Baie des Chaleurs:
A 1996 internal document makes reference to a "conflict in the Baie des Chaleurs between the inshore fishers and the large seiners". It further states that "in addition to the opening date of the large seiner fishery, inshore fishers have expressed serious concerns over the concentration of efforts in the Baie des Chaleurs and the small fish caught by the large seiners. The inshore fishers are advocating that the large seiners should be subject to the following: a fall fishery after the inshore roe fishery; the fall large seiner quota to be caught outside the Baie des Chaleurs and off the coast of Rivière-au-Renard; minimum fish size of 28cm fork length; purse seine fishing gear only (the large seiners should not be authorized to fish herring with mid-water trawl). For their part, the large seiners are asking the following: a year round fishery; a fall season starting on June 16 instead of July 1st; the use of a mid-water trawl by three seiners; closure of the Baie des Chaleurs for the first three weeks of August; assurances that uncaught quota in 4T be added to the 4,200t 4Vn quota". It appears that no news release announcing DFO’s decision was made public in 1996.
The following year however, in April 1997, the 1997-1998 Herring Management Plan for Area 16 was made public, and under the heading "large seiner fishery measures", it reads "a cap of 5,734t (50% of their 4TVn fall quota of 11,468t) in the Baie des Chaleurs is maintained. This cap is imposed until DFO has a better understanding of the stock abundance in that area". The next sentence reads "a cap of 3,634t (up to 50% of their 4T quota) is maintained for the months of July and August because of the high incidence of spring spawners during that period".
In discussion with DFO personnel, they further explain that the 50% cap in Baie des Chaleurs was introduced as a conservation measure in 1996 to prevent over concentration of effort by the seiners in that area and to protect the herring spawning components of the Baie des Chaleurs. The context in 1996 was a declining 4T herring stock. The rationale for this decision was based on the following elements: most herring found in that area are believed to be spawners from that area (mixing with other spawning components increases while herring exit the Gulf); the size of the fall spawners' component in the Baie des Chaleurs is estimated to be at least 50% of the total 4T fall spawners stock and the fall inshore fishery on spawners of Baie des Chaleurs is limited at approximately 50% of the total fall inshore quota while the rest of the inshore fishery is prosecuted in other areas and spawning components of the southern Gulf. Since 1996 the fall spawning component of the 4T herring stock has improved and spawning biomass has almost doubled in the fall. However, the spring spawning biomass has declined from a peak of 120,000t in 1995 to 51,000t in 2003.
Furthermore, DFO explained that the overall management strategy for the Southern Gulf herring fishery is to spread the fishing effort over all the major local spawning populations, and in this sense, the large purse seiner fishery off PEI is consistent with this approach. A cap in PEI is not necessary because the herring stock in this area is believed to be a mixture of spawners from different areas throughout the southern Gulf. The acoustic survey biomass on the north coast of PEI for 2003 has been estimated at 180,000t. This was approximately one week before the arrival of the large seiners on the fishing grounds of PEI.
Several consultations made reference to the 50% cap in the Baie des Chaleurs and the research that was supposed to be done. DFO provided an answer to this matter in a letter dated December 11, 2003 to the Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture in P.E.I. The letter explains that "while there is no new information that would suggest changing this 50% rule, the work started in the mid-1990’s to understand local stock abundance has been continued with existing personnel and resources. Fishermen organizations and provincial governments have contributed substantially to projects using scientific sounders on fishing vessels in that regard. Some work has been published (i.e. Claytor and Allard 2001) but there is more work to be done to determine the applicability of the technique on a wider scale". (Other published studies on this matter identified by DFO personnel were Claytor et al (1998b), Claytor and Clay (2000) and Smith et al, Symposium proceedings: Spatial Analysis of fisheries data, 17th Lowell Wakefield Conference.)
Much of the decisions regarding restriction zones are not well documented, but the above information provides some facts. Except for the extension of the restriction zone around the Magdalen Islands in 1996 and the introduction of the Northumberland Strait restriction zone, "science" seems to play the key role in justifying restriction zones in all other areas. For the Magdalen Islands, it appears that this was an agreement between the two fleets, and hence agreed to and implemented by DFO. As for the Northumberland Strait closure, it appears that the demarcation line to create an inshore fishery in this area was discussed during the August 24, 1979 meeting of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Herring Working Group. Consequently, all vessels more than 15.2m (50 feet) are not allowed to fish any species of fish in those waters (section 109 and schedule VIII, item 8 of the AFR 1985).
More science and improved mechanisms for communicating and discussing science were suggested by some as potential solutions to this dispute. However, it must be recognized that with science, certain scientific studies require years of work in order to arrive to conclusions.
During this process, I managed to obtain a number of research papers and documented data regarding the herring fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence as well as other information on related subjects. There appears to be a considerable amount of information available, however some information is inconclusive and there exist gaps in some research. These gaps and inconclusive studies fuel debate, disputes and conflict between herring fleets and parties involved. However, another factor which must be addressed with respect to science is the "pick and choose" approach by the parties. With respect to the conflict between the gear sectors, it is evident that the parties pick and choose the "science" that supports their positions and disregard the information that does not support their cause.
Processes and mechanisms to discuss science in a reasonable and controlled manner would be very valuable to the industry as a whole. An open forum amongst the parties involved and a collaborative effort is necessary in order to move this issue forward. This would certainly be of benefit to the herring industry. As well, some mentioned moving forward with joint research studies shared by industry and governments.
A comment was made during the consultations of how this past Gulf Small Pelagics Advisory Committee (December 10, 2003) meeting was more fruitful than previous meetings which included "shouting matches". Because of the appointment of a facilitator to explore gear type conflicts, other business was able to be discussed in an appropriate manner.
ISSUE: LOBSTER HABITAT
The possible negative impact of purse seining activity on lobster habitat was a key concern of inshore fishers.
Two reports were referenced to me on this matter. In terms of impact on habitat, of 522 studies conducted on the effect of mobile fishing gear on benthic habitats and documented by Dieter et al. (2003), none focused on the purse seine. Instead, the studies on this topic examined the impact of trawls, dredges and other gear that have regular impact with the substrate. The other report which may merit some attention is entitled "Shifting gears: assessing collateral impacts of fishing methods in US waters" by Chuenpagdee, Morgan, Maxwell, Norse and Pauly (2003). This study was based on answers to a questionnaire by a "wide range of fisheries stakeholders". It rated Purse seine as "low impact" and Gillnet as "high impact" with respect to the severity of collateral impacts (by-catch and habitat damage).
Furthermore, data exists within DFO regarding lobster by-catch. As an example, a 2001 document obtained shows that 73 lobsters were caught in 13 trips. In 2001, seiners made 171 trips. DFO officials further explain that as a result of this intensive monitoring, and to respond to concerns of fishers, DFO consulted with both fleets. As a result, a 10 fathom depth restriction in the Baie des Chaleurs and Cape Breton and a 15 fathom restriction along the northwestern coast of PEI were implemented in 2002 through a memorandum of agreement with the large seiners.
ISSUE: HERRING MORTALITY
Herring mortality released from purse seine sets was another key issue raised by some. It would certainly be important for debate resolution if DFO and industry could quantify herring mortality via practical studies.
No studies could be located where this has been examined for herring. A recent study explored the mortality of another pelagic species, Sardinops sagax. The study by Mitchell, RW et al. 2002 is entitled "Does the mortality of released Sardinops sagax increase if rolled over the headline of a purse seine net?" The mortality of fish taken before the seine was tightly bunted was estimated to be 8 to 20%. The mortality of fish that rolled over the headline was 11 to 55%. The authors concluded that mortality can be reduced by quickly releasing any unwanted catch.
The possibility of conducting a similar study in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence with herring would provide a quantified answer to this issue. Others suggest that attention should be afforded to accurate reporting of the herring bait fishery as well as the unaccounted herring mortality from the gillnet fishery.
ISSUE: MIXING and MIGRATORY PATTERNS
The debate over the "mixing" of various herring stocks and herring components and herring migration will probably not be as easily resolved as some of the other issues because of the complexity of this issue. However, available research and data, enhanced by further research and data collection would certainly prove beneficial to the Herring industry.
ISSUE: GHOST FISHING
During the consultations, one group explained that "when a seine touches the bottom, it only drags against the bottom as it closes; no fishing gear stays on the bottom and continues to fish, as happens with the thousands of inshore gillnets that are left on the fishing grounds each year".
No direct studies exploring this matter in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence were found. However, two papers on this subject were located. Atlantic Fisheries: Retrieval of lost gillnets and prevention of ghost fishing: Discussion paper (Oct. 5, 1992) makes reference to "existing evidence suggests that lost gillnets continue to actively fish at a rate of approximately 15% of the commercial rate of capture. This "ghost fishing" phenomenon poses a drastic threat to fish stocks, marine mammals and birds. Consultations with government and industry personnel indicate that approximately 2% or about 8,000 active gillnets are lost annually in the waters of Atlantic Canada. It is conservatively estimated that in 1992 (due to fishing gear lost from 1982 to 1992), 3,600 tonnes of fish valued at some $3 million will be wasted".
Another paper, Phase 1: Prevention of ghost fishing in Atlantic Canada from the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, concludes that "studies and fishing reports reviewed in this phase of the project clearly confirm that loss of fishing gear is a long-standing hazard experienced by fishers worldwide. There is the added problem that, particularly in the case of gillnets and pots, lost gears continue to ghost fish. The nature of ghost fishing is uncertain. Sometimes it happens quietly over the long term and always it is difficult to assess."
It may be important to investigate this matter a little more closely for the herring fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Quick calculations based on available DFO data and the statistics in these above reports (if they apply) could mean a considerable number of lost gillnets in the Gulf. (In 2003, there were 515 active spring gillnet herring licences, and data shows that they used between 25 and 30 nets. In the fall of 2003 there were 736 active gillnet licences, and they used an average of 6 to 8 nets. Based on the 2% lost rate as estimated in the above paper, this could indicate a lost of 346 to 427 gillnets?)
ISSUE: DFO LEADERSHIP AND CREDIBILITY
An occurring theme expressed by most during these consultations is the general credibility of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The lack of trust in management, enforcement and science appears central to many of the disputes. Indications seem to suggest that these disputes will not be easily resolved until more confidence is gained. More science, and perhaps as important, mechanisms for communicating and discussing scientific research results may be crucial to resolving disputes in the long term relating to the mobile and fixed gear herring fishery.
Also, a belief which seems to be common to most involved in this dispute, is that DFO bows to political pressure, rather than managing the fishery as a function of scientific data and studies. This fuels the belief that in order to get things done, lobbying, protests, and the like, result in many cases to the desired outcome.
The above matter should be given particular attention. However, serious consideration should be given to proper leadership from all parties involved (fishers, provincial governments and DFO) and proper mechanisms for dealing with disagreements and conflicts. It is important to note another point raised during these consultations, and that is of the need of a more formal structure of industry representation in PEI.
ISSUE: FISH QUALITY
Although fish quality was perhaps not seen as a major issue within this conflict, it emerged as an important issue for the industry. Some suggested that this is not to be taken lightly as the herring fishery may soon have to respond to serious market requirements regarding fish quality. If this happens, adaptations in fishing methods as well as offloading, trucking and handling practices will be required. Furthermore, if the gear type conflict could be resolved, then fishers may be able to put their effort and energy discussing value-added, fish quality and optimum use of the herring. Without any extra herring removed from the ocean, fishers and processors could benefit economically from improved yield, fish quality and value-added (by receiving more money for the same amount of herring landed).
As was pointed out during the consultations by some parties, histamine was discovered last fall above the acceptable limit in Gulf of St. Lawrence smoked herring (clupea harengus). Without entering into a full discussion of this matter, it remains clear that the industry has to focus effort on fish quality. A visit to the European Commission Website, Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed at "http://europa.eu.int/comm./food/fs/sfp/ras_index_en.html" (under weeks 41, 44 and 45) will show that smoked herring from Canada received an alert notification.