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The story of the Southern Gulf of St.-Lawrence snow crab fishery

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Title: The story of the Southern Gulf of St.-Lawrence snow crab fishery


1
The story of theSouthern Gulf of St.-Lawrence
snow crab fishery
  • Prepared by EXMAR inc
  • Fisheries Management Consultant
  • Shippagan, N.B.

2
  • Presented by
  • LAssociation des crabiers acadiens
  • Les Crabiers du nord-est

3
The fishing fleets historical profile
  • Approximately 700 fishers from the Acadian
    Peninsula in NB, from the Gaspé Peninsula and the
    Magdalene Islands in QC and from Cap Breton in
    NS 
  • Prov. Licences Fishers
  • NB 81 446
  • QC 47 259
  • NS 2 11
  • Total 130 716

4
The main characteristic of thesnow crab stock
  • Its biomass fluctuates according to a still
    unexplained natural cycle
  • Phases of notable abundance increases are
    followed by periods of significant stock decline

5
Who are the snow crab fishers
  • They are former groundfish fishers.
  • They started this new fishery in the early 60s
    following the first collapse of the cod and
    redfish stocks in the Southern Gulf of
    St.-Lawrence
  • The vast majority of the 130original family
    operated fishing enterprisesare still active in
    the Area 12 snow crab fishery today

6
Who are the snow crab fishers
  • In 1978, DFO stopped issuing new snow crab
    licenses in their fishing territoryknown as Area
    12
  • At the same time, the DFO proceeded to cut the
    edges of their fishing territory so that 6 new
    smaller Fishing Areas could be established along
    the coasts of Quebec, Cap Breton, and, later,
    Prince-Edward-Island.

7
NF
QC
12
NB
NS
8
In 1978
  • Area 13 49 licenses
  • Area 14 21 licenses
  • Area 15 8 licenses
  • Area 16 38 licenses
  • Area 17 22 licenses
  • Total 138 licenses

9
In 1979
  • Area 18 31 licenses
  • Area 19 79 licenses
  • Total 110 licenses

10
NF
QC
12
NB
NS
11
NF
QC
12
NB
NS
12
In 1985
  • Areas 25 and 26 30 licenses

13
NF
QC
12
NB
NS
14
The  boom and bust  period
  • From 1979 onward, the crab industry will boom
    for a short while.
  • The Japanese buyers are very active alongside a
    modern fleet of fishing vesselsand processing
    plants.
  • Between 1978 and 1982, catches increased rapidly
    from 10 500 mt to 31 500 mt

15
The  boom and bust  period
  • At the time, the DFO managers argued that these
    ever increasing catch rates testified to an ever
    increasing abundance of crab on the fishing
    grounds
  • The fishermen disagreed with this assessment and
    ascribed their abundant catches to the improved
    performance of their fishing vessels and fishing
    gear

16
The  boom and bust  period
  • The fishers assessment was eventually proven
    right by DFOs own scientists in 1992
  • The increase in landings from 1978 (10
    462tm)to 1982 (31 582 tm) can be ascribed to
    this expansion and to a more efficient
    harvestingof the available resource rather than
    an increase of the stock biomass.
  • Technical Report No. 1827F, CAFSAC,1992

17
The  boom and bust  period
  • This erroneous perception of an abundant biomass
    of crab by DFO managers led to the
    over-exploitation which in turn led to a stock
    collapse in 1989
  • From 31 500 tm in 1982, catches declined to25
    000 tm in 1985 and shrunk to a mere8 000 tm in
    1989
  • In the spring of that year, DFO managers finally
    decided to close the fishery once a majority of
    crab fishermen had voluntarily put an end to
    their fishing activities

18
Rebuilding the stockand the industry
  • In 1990, the crabbers willingly accepted the
    challenge of rebuilding the stock and their
    fishery
  • Strong conservations measures were established
    based upon a strict control of the fleets
    fishing capacity
  • The number of licenses was frozen and the TAC was
    divided into fixed individual shares between the
    existing license holders

19
Rebuilding the stockand the industry
  • The crab fleet supported innovative stock
    assessment/protection activities as well as
    enhanced monitoring of their fishery
  • Between 1994 and 2002, these local entrepreneurs
    invested over 10 millions in support of these
    measures

20
Rebuilding the stockand the industry
  • For its part, DFO agreed to
  • Incorporate crabbers know-how and influence in
    the management of the stock and of their fishery
  • Establish a moratorium on snow crab fishing
    licenses in Area 12

21
The 1990 snow crab agreement
  • The crab resource was divided into
    fixedindividual quotas
  • TAC was not to exceed 70 of the lowest
    scientific estimate
  • Landings were to be monitored independently at
    dockside
  • Fishery would close when catches reach 20 of
    molting crab

22
Distribution of individual quotasin the Area 12
snow crab fishery
  • Negotiations were highly structured
  • No fewer than 6 different sharing formulas
    tabled by DFO

23
Distribution of individual quotasin the Area 12
snow crab fishery
  • Difficult and intricate negotiations took place
    between
  • Those who favored competitive fisheries
  • Those who favored individual quotas
  • The fishers with large historical catches
  • The fishers with small historical catches

24
Distribution of individual quotasin the Area 12
snow crab fishery
  • The following two examples reveal the extent of
    the snow crab sharing process implemented within
    the Area 12 fishery in 1990.
  • Both cases presented hereare those of fishers
    who are still activein the Area 12 crab fishery
    today.

25
Distribution of individual quotasin the Area 12
snow crab fishery
  • At the outset of the negotiations
  • Fisher B with a quota history six (6) times
    larger than Fisher A
  • Fisher A held 66, 000 lbs
  • Fisher B held 380, 000 lbs

26
Distribution of individual quotasin the Area 12
snow crab fishery
  • At the end of the negotiations
  • Fisher As share had increased by 224
  • He now held 148, 000 lbs
  • Fisher Bs share had decreased by 45
  • He now held 210 000 lbs

27
In 1993, Minister Crosbie stated
  • Following the success of IQs under the 1991-92
    management plan, a five-year IQ plan was
    established with management measures similar to
    those of last yaer. The move to a five-year
    plan is supported by industry.

28
In 1993, Minister Crosbie stated
  • The industry should be acknowledged for its
    commitment to preserving this important resource
    and promoting effective management of the
    fishery.
  • -News release dated April 8, 1993-

29
Return of stock abundance in 1994
  • The crab fleet funds DFOs scientific research
    program
  • The crab fleet sets up a fund for cod fishers
    under moratorium
  • DFO assigns new fishing sub zones in Area 12
  • (in agreement with the crab fleet)

30
NF
QC
12
NB
NS
31
In 1994
  • Area 12 A 10 licenses
  • Area 12 B 8 licenses
  • Area 12 C 5 licenses
  • Area 12 D 531 licenses
  • Total 554 licenses

32
The 1995 crisis
  • The first crab lottery draw
  • Numerous temporary allocations of 10 000 lbs
    each are made available for the draw
  • Additional exploratory fishing areas(E and F)
    are imposed in Area 12
  • (without the crab fleets consent)

33
NF
Qc
12
NB
NS
34
In 1995
  • Area E 8 licenses
  • Area F 16 licenses
  • Total 24 licenses

35
Minister Tobins position in 1995
  • Conservation remains our principal goal.We will
    ensure that the resource and the viability of the
    existing fleets are not threatened by a permanent
    shift in fishing effortfrom one fishery to
    another.

36
Minister Tobins position in 1995
  •  In the past, such permits were allowedto
    become a permanent part of the fisheryto which
    they applied.
  • This is not the case in this instance.
  • These seasonal temporary permitswill expire at
    the end of 1995 and will not be renewed in future
    years.
  • - News release April 13, 1995 -

37
Minister Mifflins position in 1996
  • Temporary permits are reissued
  • The crab and shrimp fleets fear forthe future of
    their fishery

38
First partnership agreements
  • Area 12 snow crab agreement of 1997
  • Gulf of St.-Lawrence shrimp agreementof 1998

39
First partnership agreements
  • Crabbers and shrimppers agreed that
  • other fishers be given temporary access to their
    fisheries above a preset economic/ quota
    threshold.
  • Financial contributions be given to DFO to fund
    conservation and protection as well as management
    activities .

40
First partnership agreements
  • DFO agreed to
  • Incorporate fishers know-how in the management
    of their respective fisheries
  • Comply with the 1990 permanent sharing
    agreements of individual quotas
  • No new permanent licenses/allocations will be
    issued

41
The Marshall decision in 1999
  • Crabbers believe that snow crab is not subjected
    to the Halifax Treaties
  • The snow crab fishing grounds are located
    outside the traditional Micmac and Malecite
    territories
  • Snow crab is not a specie that was fished by the
    First Nations at the time the treaties were
    signed

42
The Marshall decision in 1999
  • However, they agree to integrate First Nations
    fishers in their fishery, as long as
  • Existing commercial crab licenses (along with
    the vessels) are acquired on a voluntary basis
  • The First Nations fish their allocations
    themselves

43
Situation at the end of 2002
  • The 1990 the snow crab agreement has held for 12
    years
  • The 1991 the Gulf shrimp agreement has held for
    11 years
  • No new permanent license or allocation of crab
    or shrimp has been granted since 1990

44
Second partnership proposals
  • Same proposals are made to DFO by the crab fleet
    and the shrimp fleet
  • They propose that new temporary access be
    granted to other fishers above a preset economic
    or quota threshold
  • They propose financial contributions from the
    crab and the shrimp fleets towards the funding of
    their fisheries scientific, conservation,
    protection as well as management activities .

45
The 2003 crisis
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • honors the shrimp fleets proposal
  • rejects the snow crab fleets proposal

46
The 1990snow crab agreement is rejected
  • Numerous non crabbers are given a permanent
    share of the Area 12 snow crab fishery
  • Fishing over-capacity is install in the absence
    of any long term sustainability assessment
  • and despite risky fluctuations in stock
    abundance.

47
The 1991shrimp agreement is honored
  • No permanent Gulf shrimp licenses are issued
    even though continuous landings increases were
    registered annually
  • from 13 000 tm in 1992 and 28 000 tm in 2003

48
The snow crabI.Q. system of management is
discredited
  • Each crabber lost 26.5 of his individual share
  • (without compensation)
  • 10,35 to the First Nations
  • (5,44 buy back 10,35) 15,80
  • 12,64 to the lobster and the ground fish
    fleets
  • 3,37 to the inshore fishers from Nova Scotia
    (Area 18)

49
DFOs shrimpI.T.Q. system of management is
honored
  • No permanent lost of individual quota is
    sustained by any shrimp vessel DFO honors all
    Individual shares

50
  • The Minister rejects a private/public partnership
    offer from the crab fleet worth2 500 000
    annually
  • The Minister honors a private/public partnership
    offer from the shrimp fleet worth 140, 000
    annually

51
  • DFO cancels out the crabbers influence on the
    management of their fishery
  • The Department adds 33 new groups of players
    on the Area 12 snow crab advisory committee
  • DFO protects the shrimpers influence on the
    management of their fishery
  • Not even one group of new fishers gain access to
    the Gulf of St.- Lawrence shrimp advisory
    committee

52
The eviction of the crabbers influence in the
management of their fishery
  • Before 2003
  • The 8 crabbers associations held 100 of the
    harvesting sectors representation on the various
    DFO forums dedicated to the Area 12 crab stock
    and fishery.

53
The eviction of the crabbers influence in the
management of their fishery
  • In March 2004
  • - 13 new groups of lobster fishers had been
    given 32 of the crab sectors representation
  • - 12 First Nations had been given 29 of
    harvesting sectors representation
  • - 8 new groups of cod fishers had been given a
    further 20 of the sectors representation

54
The eviction of the crabbers influence in the
management of their fishery
  • The influence of the 8 crabbers associations on
    the management of their fishery and of the Area
    12 stock had thus been reduced from 100 to 20.

55
First Nations representation (12 new groups)
  • Indian Island
  • Lennox Island
  • Burnt Church
  • Abegweit
  • Big Cove
  • Eel River Bar
  • Maria
  • Restigouche
  • Pabineau

56
First Nations representation (12 new groups)
  • Bouctouche
  • Gaspé
  • Red Bank

57
Non-crabbers representation (21 new groups)
  • Gulf NS Fishermen Coalition (NS)
  • Inverness South Fishermens Ass. (NS)
  • Maritime Fishermens Union Local 4 (NS)
  • Gulf N.S. Bonafide Fishermen ass. (NS)
  • Area 18 Crab Fishermen Ass. (NS)
  • North of Smokey Fishermen Ass (NS)
  • PEI Fishermen Ass. (PEI)
  • Mobile ground fish-dependant ass. (PEI)

58
Non-crabbers representation (21 new groups)
  • Ass. des pêche. de la MRC-Pabok (QC)
  • Ass. morutiers trad. de la Gaspésie (QC)
  • Ass. pêcheurs de lAnse à Brillant (QC)
  • Alliance pêch. Prof. Du Québec (QC)
  • Féd. pêch. semi-haut. du Québec (QC)
  • Regroupement pêch. prof. des I de la M (QC)

59
Non-crabbers representation (21 new groups)
  • Ass. pêch. de p. de f. acadiens (NB)
  • Northumberland Fishermen Ass. (NB)
  • UPM Shédiac (NB)
  • UPM Shédiac (NB)
  • UPM Tracadie-Sheila (NB)

60
Consequences of the 2003 plan
  • Conditions and alliances that had been essential
    to the construct of this sustainable fishery were
    shattered
  • The 1990 restrictions to the fleets capacity
    were eliminated
  • The co-management process with DFO was broken
  • The cohesion between fishers organizations was
    also broken

61
The 1990 restrictions to the fleets capacity
were eliminated
  • The credibility of the individual quota system
    was undermined by the expansionof the fleet
  • and by the reduction of each crabbers historical
    share of the fishery

62
DFOs message to the crabbers in 1990
  • Agree to the restrictions offixed individual
    quotas
  • You will help the resource and you will reap
    the economic benefitsdown the road!

63
DFOs message to the crabbers in 2003
  • Thank you for your help, Buddy!
  • It is time for us to give your fishery to
    others!
  • Divide and conquer

64
  • Lets have a second look atFisher A and Fisher
    B

65
  • The 1990 sharing agreement gave fisher A a higher
    portion of the stock than the value, in
    percentage, of his historical catches in order to
    foster the long term viability of his fishing
    enterprise
  • His quota was raised by 224 climbing from66
    000 lbs to 148 000 lbs
  • In 1990 numbers, his quota had dropped to108 000
    lbs in 2003
  • His enterprise was once again made unviable in
    the long term

66
  • On the other side of the ledger, the Fisher B
    quota went from 380 000 lbs to 210 000 lbs to 154
    350 lbs in 2003
  • This enterprise suffered a cumulative lost of
    225 650 lbs or 59 of his historical share since
    1990 along with a significant portion of its
    profitability

67
The co-management process is broken
  • Since 2003, the fishers perception is that they
    have generally been ignored, excluded or
    threatenby DFO officials

68
Following the 1989 collapse
  • The crabbers rebuilt the crab stock and fishery
  • DFO has now reinstated over-capacity
  • The crabbers achieved financial self-reliance
  • DFO has now reinstated over-capitalization
  • The crabbers achieved this through successful
    public/private partnerships
  • DFO has now confiscated their fishery and the
    crab stock itself for its own benefit and at its
    own discretion
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