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Fishermen Frustrated Over Halibut Quota Proposal

Sustainability Halibut Economics +7 more

CANADA - The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association is upset the province's share of the Atlantic region's halibut quota could be slashed by a third.

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An independent report done for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans suggests the total allowable catch of 720 metric tonnes for the Atlantic region remain unchanged for the 2012 season, reports CBCNews.

However, the report recommends PEI's share be cut by 33 per cent and redistributed to Newfoundland and the Gaspe Region of Quebec.

The PEIFA said that would reduce PEI's halibut quota of 33.8 tonnes down to 20.6 tonnes.

The Association said the numbers are skewed because they included years when a moratorium was in place.

It said fishermen are also frustrated because they say they have not received an explanation for the change.

In December 2011, the Federal Minister of Fisheries & Oceans Keith Ashfield, announced that DFO had contracted independent firm Ernst & Young to review the methodology of establishing inshore fixed gear fleet shares for the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Mike McGeoghegan, president of the PEIFA, said the recommendation is unacceptable for P.E.I. fishermen.

"We thought for sure when it went to an independent, Ernst and Young, to look at it that we would get our fair share out of the halibut stocks," Mr McGeoghegan said. "We have over 800 licences and we are only getting just a fraction of the quota."

Danny Arsenault, chair of the PEIFA Groundfish Advisory Committee, said his association is not happy with the recommendation.

"There is a lack of transparency and fairness in this process," Arsenault stated in the release. "It appears we wasted time and resources on this review and for what?"

The PEIFA hopes to meet with Keith Ashfield later this month to review the recommendations that have been put forward to him and to ask for a further review.

In 2009, politicians and fishing industry players in Newfoundland and Labrador accused then Fisheries Minister Gail Shea of redistributing a fish quota to benefit her home province of P.E.I.

DFO has not responded to the CBC's request for interviews on this matter.