Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the requests ranged from permitting a certain percentage of overall fleet quota to be harvested during the closure through permitting certain gear types to continue to fish through the closure to permitting certain areas to continue to be allowed to be fished and varying the closure period depending on fish quality. With regard to (a)(i), the fleets were represented by the following groups: the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council, or GEAC; the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, or FFAW; and the Fixed Gear Offshore Harvesters association, or FGOH. The following individual licence-holders were in attendance: Miawpukek First Nation, from Conne River; Icewater fisheries; and Ocean Choice International, or OCI. With regard to (a)(ii) and (a)(iii), the requests were presented at a meeting chaired by DFO officials held on February 19, 2014, in St. John’s, at which all fleet sectors engaged in the 3Ps cod fishery were in attendance. With regard to (a)(iv), all fleet sectors requested some form of flexibility on the existing closed period in support of efforts that would increase market opportunities for the industry and in light of the fact that less than one-half the total quota has been taken in recent years.
With regard to (b), DFO’s science branch advised that the latest 3Ps cod science assessment has indicated the stock may have recovered to its upper stock reference point. This latest advice indicates significant strength in the recovering stock, which may warrant additional flexibility in the closure in the interest of further market development for the industry. Science is engaging in co-operative science work with France in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon on the efficacy of closures and conducting additional scientific research into the reproductive behaviour of the stock throughout the season.