ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) is calling on the federal government to take immediate action to control seal overpopulation in an effort to protect extremely vulnerable cod stocks on the south coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The most recent assessment of southern Gulf cod (4T) was clear; extinction of that cod population is highly probable due to predation by grey seals. Scientists in the region took over a decade to acknowledge the impact seals were having in the southern Gulf region, and by that time the stock was already experiencing threatened extinction. A domino effect is now working its way up the coast with seal predation threatening cod stocks on the south coast of Newfoundland (3Ps) and in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence up to the Northern Peninsula (3Pn4R).

“For over two decades, I sat at the assessment and management tables with DFO where we repeatedly called on the government to take action against seal overpopulation. In that twenty years, absolutely no concrete action has been taken. We’ve now arrived at a point where three cod stocks in Atlantic Canada may go extinct as a direct result of natural mortality – specifically as a result of seal predation,” says David Decker, FFAW-Unifor Secretary Treasurer.

“When you look through the cod assessments for the southern Gulf stock over the past two decades compared to the south coast cod stock assessments, the parallels are striking with high natural mortality, particularly among older cod (ages 5+). It took multiple assessments and considerable research to definitively show the impacts of seal predation. If we are going to do similar work here, we will need to start now and learn from adjacent stocks,” explains Dr. Erin Carruthers, FFAW-Unifor Fisheries Scientist.

Full press release here