SOUTHWEST COAST – The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has responded to e-mail inquiries surrounding allegations that Nova Scotia boats are harvesting large quotas in 3Ps via a sub-lease through Icewater Seafoods (The Trouble with Halibut, Volume 2, Issue 9 edition).
“Atlantic halibut in NAFO Sub-Division 3Ps is part of a stock component that spans from the Scotian Shelf to the Southern Grand Banks, with its management unit defined as NAFO Div. 3NOPs4VWX5Zc. There is an established sharing arrangement for the TAC for this stock, in which the inshore fixed-fleet in 3Ps is allocated 2.5%,” stated Kevin Guest, Communications Advisor for DFO.
Guest also clarified the difference between halibut fishing in 3Ps and 3Pn zones.
“For the past several years, the Atlantic halibut allocation for the 3Ps inshore fixed-gear fleet has been used entirely to cover bycatch by the fleet in other fisheries. For portion of the year, the Department authorizes inshore fixed-gear harvesters in 3Ps to retain halibut as bycatch. When it is authorized to be retained, the incidental catch of Atlantic halibut shall not exceed 3% or 200 lb., whichever is greater,” explained Guest.
“This approach was established to ensure that each year, the fleet does not exceed its available allocation and to extend the period during the season within which halibut can be retained. This approach was developed in consultation with industry representatives and is reflected in the annual Conservation Harvesting Plan for the fleet.
“Atlantic halibut in NAFO Sub-Division 3Pn is not considered part of the 3NOPs4VWX5Zc stock component. There is an annual directed fishery for Atlantic halibut in 3Pn for inshore fixed-gear harvesters. The management measures in place for the 3Pn halibut fishery are specific to this fishery and separate from those established for other fleets and other areas.”
DFO would not comment on any agreement between the province and processors, instead re-directing inquiries back to the province.