LEWISPORTE AND TWILLINGATE, NL – With the rest of the province seeing decreases in snow crab quota this year, Division 3K, which spans from the tip of the Northern Peninsula to the eastern end of Bonavista Bay, won’t see any significant changes either way.
“I was not surprised,” fisherman and member of the 3K4 Crab Committee Bobby Noble told the Pilot April 6. “Our committee recommended that the quota stay the same, and it did.”
The division will see a slight overall increase of 2 per cent, from 5,794 tonnes in 2017 to 5,932 tonnes in 2018. Within that, however, quota for area 3C will go up by 20 per cent, and area 3D will go up 10 per cent, leaving areas 3A, 3B, 3BC, and 4 the same.
Noble takes no issue with the amount he and his fellow 3K fishermen will be able to harvest, but he does see a problem with the limitations on the season. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has decreed there be no fall fishery in the division again this year, something Noble said is hindering harvesters.
“We want the fall fishery,” he said. “The spring fishery is good, but in the summer, we have problems with soft shell crab. We wanted to stop fishing in the summer, and then come back in the fall.”
A fall fishery test was conducted in 2017, an experiment Noble said went remarkably well. After a meeting with DFO earlier this year, he said he had been hopeful they would change the regulations and allow for a longer – or bisected – season.
“We’re disappointed with the management measures,” he said. “We thought we had a good chance.”
Map courtesy of DFO website.
Where DFO and fishermen agree, however, is in the slight increase in the number of crab in the area. Albert Wells, a harvester in area 3B, said the science and what operators are seeing match up, and that an increase in recruitment is certainly a positive sign.
“The science is believing what we’re believing,” he said. “That we can maintain that stock.”
Wells said the top concern for fishermen in his area are the ice conditions. Last year, there was so much ice, the season only started in June. The year before, conditions were favourable and the first boats went out at the end of April. This year, he anticipates a start date of early May.
See the complete list of quotas, season start dates, and other information here.
And check out how people are reacting:
And if you wanted a little more background: