Photo: Graham Hughes The canadian Press
The snow crab is a flagship product of the maritime regions of Québec. In 2017, the value of landings of shellfish accounted for only 180 million dollars, according to federal data.
The certification of sustainable fisheries remains suspended for the fishers of snow crab in the gulf of St. Lawrence, announced Monday the organization Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), holding that there remains a lack of evidence to demonstrate that this industry is not a threat to the right whales of the North Atlantic.
By way of a press release, the certification program, MSC has welcomed the progress being made to reduce the impacts of snow crab fishing on right whales, an endangered species that has experienced a dramatic episode of mortalities in the gulf in 2017.
“The reduction of the entanglement and the absence of mortality during the fishing season 2018 demonstrate the effectiveness of this work, and we remain optimistic about the fact that the continuing efforts demonstrate the ability of the industry to meet the criteria MSC “, and pointed to his director in Canada, Jay Lugar.
However, the MSC concludes that, at the end of its analysis of the measures taken to protect right whales, it still lack of evidence to confirm that these measures are “effective enough” to avoid harming the recovery of this species, which today employs just over 400 individuals. According to the MSC, this will require collecting data on more than one fishing season.
The MSC certification, which is very important to ensure the marketing and export of snow crab in the gulf, therefore, remains suspended for a second consecutive year. She had in effect been suspended for the first time in march 2018.
This situation is all the more worrying for the fishermen that the snow crab is a flagship product of the maritime regions of Québec. The value of the landings of this crustacean in 2017 alone represented 53 % of the total value of marine products landed at the quay by the fishermen of quebec, more than 180 million dollars, according to federal data.
Reacting to the continued suspension of the certification of sustainable fisheries, the fishermen of New Brunswick are said to be disappointed of the decision of the MSC and recalled that no right whales have been found dead during the fishing season 2018. According to the processors of crab in New Brunswick, it is no doubt that this industry can coexist with the mammals.
The Association of little egret in the gaspé peninsula and the quebec Association of the fishing industry, did not respond Monday to calls of Duty. It has not been possible to obtain the comments of the government of Quebec.
On the side of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, it is estimated that the maintenance of the suspension of the MSC certification ” highlights the continuous need for all parties concerned to work together to protect the right whale “.
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to support the industry, while the latter strives to restore the MSC certification for the fishing of snow crab, by taking important measures for protection of right whales in 2019 and beyond “, also pointed to the federal ministry.
After the hecatomb of the year 2017, where 12 right whales have been found dead in the gulf of St. Lawrence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has put in place measures without precedent to protect these marine mammals, are more numerous than ever frequenting the gulf of St. Lawrence.
In 2018, but also this year, an area of the gulf was completely closed to fishing gear static at the end of the month of April. Moreover, aerial surveillance is provided by the federal government, so as to be able to impose temporary closures of some fishing areas if a whale is observed in the sector. A speed limit is also imposed on commercial ships, in order to reduce the risk of collisions.
The federal government has not, however, the choice put in place measures to protect right whales, since the canadian fishing industry must comply with by 2022, the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
This u.s. legislation requires the industry, including that of the United States, to demonstrate that its activities do not jeopardize the marine mammals. If this is not the case, the lucrative us market will be closed. However, not less than 80 % of our marine resources are exported.
Because right whales tend to remain easily in fishing gear, measures must be taken to avoid deaths, which threaten the survival of this species. Such measures have also been taken for several years along the u.s. east coast.
The situation of the right whale remains critical. According to the most recent report of the american researchers, the population would amount today to 410 whales. They were close to 500 in 2010. What’s more, the data on reproduction show a marked decline in the birth rate. The statistics of the united states Agency for ocean observation and atmospheric show that during the period 2007-2017, the annual average was 18 calves. But the researchers had seen only 5 in 2017, the year considered then as very bad, and zero in 2018. Seven calves have been sighted so far this year.