Under our present Conservative government, DFO, along with almost all government departments, has been required to make massive cuts. These cuts have partially resulted in the downloading of a number of services from the DFO to industry. As all fishermen now know, one of the consequences of this action has been to force fishermen to acquire and pay for tags for their gear; in particular, lobster. To date, government has rejected all lobbying efforts by the fishing industry to delay this course of action and enable industry to institute an effective working process.

Typically for government, their procedure to facilitate this transition was seriously flawed and has resulted in industry scrambling to somehow make this happen as smoothly as possible. It has been an extremely difficult exercise that has taken a huge amount of time and energy from various members of fishermen’s organizations around the Maritime Provinces. One such organization is the Maritime Fishermen’s Union. MFU Local 6 has been working hard to help in this regard by becoming a tag distributor for members in Area 27.

There will no doubt be obstacles to overcome as this process develops but we will do our best to ensure that tags are available in a timely and economically feasible manner for members.

What follows is a letter from MFU head office answering questions by our president Kevin Squires, gathered together after a number of discussions with other members of industry, to give Local 6 members a feel for the situation from our executive’s perspective….

Note: MFU has since been accepted as a legitimate Tags distributor. Check this DFO site to see who has been accepted as legitamate tags distributors around the Maritimes. Cost per individual, as of early January 2013, has yet to be determined but we intend to be very competative on price so stay in touch with your Local rep.

Christian Brun

 Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2013 4:28 PM

 To: 'Kevin Squires'

 Subject: RE: Trap Tags

Hey Kevin! Happy New Year to you and family!

Here are some quick answers to your questions – you can call if others pop up…

Happy New Year Christian – I hope and trust you had a fine break from the trials and tribulations of the fishing industry.  A couple of questions regarding tags:

- When do you anticipate DFO will approve us as a tag supplier? (We’ve had a few inquiries/expressions of interest in joining, but people want the security of knowing we are an approved supplier)

Next week…

- Will the change to sequential numbering speed up production, and/or reduce cost for tags?

Slightly… it mostly accelerates rate of production – and slightly reduces price of production…

- When will you be placing the MFU tag order?  Will we be able to add a number of sets to the order after it has been placed? (In case, as I anticipate, a good number of LFA 27 fishermen find themselves needing tags)

As soon as we are approved, I make an order (for all MFU zones)… all we need is a set number of harvesters for each species or fishing zone (and we have that now for Local 6)… we could order some more later… or could order with 2nd company (Universal) on special order…

- What is the anticipated date tags will be available? (Specifically, Snow Crab might start as early as April 1st – and there is a good chance Lobster will start earlier than May 15 as well)

If we can order next week – by mid-March (it is at first come first serve now – and our order is urgent!)… we could accelerate the snow crab and lobster tags – thanks for this info… 

- Has the manufacturer given any indication of turnaround time for tag orders after this initial rush has passed? (If we find ourselves needing additional tag sets as seasons approach, or in the event of major storms/trap loss)

We will have 20% tags for replacements and they will not be linked to harvesters (but they will be limited to one zone or species)… we will have two companies we could order for urgent special orders… I would suspect they will want to keep us happy as a client and will do their best to produce ASAP if something happens. Not much more we can do – no other options out there really! 

- And on a somewhat more speculative note, given the change to a sequential numbering system, will you simply be ordering more tags in the same sequence, or has DFO indicated some special identification for replacement tags?  And related to this, I think Ruth and you discussed the matter, but I forget what the conclusion was – how many replacement tags (sequential or not) do you plan to order for LFA 27?

We order initial tags from No. 1-275 (for lobster) for harvester #1 (and these numbers will be linked to a harvester on a list) and No. 276-550 for harvester #2. Replacement tags numbers will follow and thus be easily discernible from initial tags. Let’s say LFA 27 has a total of 11,000 initial tags for lobster, if 20% replacement tags are produced (2200 tags), they will carry numbers 11,001 to 13,200.  

So that’s all the questions I have for now – somehow I expect there will be more...............Cheers, and thanks in advance – KS

Hope this answers all questions…