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DFO establishes task team on Atlantic seal science

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ROCKY HARBOUR, N.L. —

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is taking action to address the concerns of fish harvesters about the relationship between seals and fish populations by setting up a task team on Atlantic seal science.

The establishment of the team was announced by Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson during an event in Rocky Harbour on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

“Listening to different perspectives is important to making sure our work is well-informed,” said Wilkinson in a press release from DFO.

He said he looks forward to hearing the views of the team on how the department can collaborate and communicate the science better.

Gudie Hutchings, the Liberal member of parliament for the Long Range Mountains, said she was elated that fish harvesters in her riding will have an opportunity to provide input and science directly to the minister.

“Having a diversity of voices represented in this conversation will help strengthen decision making and ultimately help find solutions to rebuild and restore fish stocks.”

The team will be co-chaired by an official with DFO and Glenn Blackwood, the vice-president of Memorial University for the Fisheries and Marine Institute.

The team will:

1. Provide input on the priorities of DFO’s Atlantic seal science program;

2. Examine the application of technology advancements to seal research;

3. Increase the involvement of the fishing industry in seal science projects;

4. Provide advice on how DFO could better communicate its scientific findings to the fishing industry.

It will be comprised of six to 10 members from the fishing industry and stakeholder groups, who will have a broad expertise and experience in Atlantic fisheries. The team will be finalized over the next several weeks and will be asked to sit for up to one year. 

DFO said the initiative will help ensure that the best available science is considered when making management decisions for seals and sea lions, with the goal of sustaining healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems.

The team complements activities recently announced in British Columbia relating to population dynamics of seals and sea lions and their impact on fish populations, says the release.

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