Bon­av­ista Bay con­ver­sa­tions

The Beacon (Gander) - - News -

HARE BAY, NL – About two dozen fish har­vesters gath­ered in Hare Bay Jan. 19 to share their con­cerns with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO). Ron Bur­ton, area direc­tor for DFO Eastern, Cen­tral and Labrador, chaired the meet­ing. The fol­low­ing are some of the har­vesters’ con­cerns.

Mov­ing to fines

Bur­ton con­firmed the de­part­ment is look­ing to ad­dress fines for smaller in­frac­tions within the fish­ery rather than go­ing to court. How­ever, the op­tion of go­ing to court would still there. Bur­ton said fi­nal­iza­tion of the process is “very close” but couldn’t pro­vide a start date.

Crab dates

Due to ice con­di­tions caus­ing de­lays in the crab fish­ery, ques­tions arose about a fall crab fish­ery. Bur­ton stated stud­ies have been con­ducted on this topic in the past. One report showed very poor re­sults, while the other showed bet­ter. He said an­other study is be­ing car­ried out, with the re­sults dic­tat­ing the ad­van­tages of catch­ing late in the fall com­pared to spring.

Buddy up

Har­vesters and DFO dis­cussed the op­tion of a buddy-up sys­tem to land cod quo­tas, sim­i­lar to one used in the crab fish­ery. The sys­tem would al­low har­vesters to fish their own quo­tas while shar­ing one ves­sel. One down­side DFO noted is that the buddy-up sys­tem al­lows in­ac­tive fish­ers to part­ner with an ac­tive fisher to catch a quota. This would see more li­cense hold­ers ob­tain­ing a quota and would make for lower in­di­vid­ual quo­tas for ac­tive fish­ers.

Cod dates

Fish­er­men ex­pressed con­cern about how dates and weekly quo­tas are set up. They say the sea­sonal time­line works; how­ever, har­vesters have had dif­fi­culty get­ting buy­ers to pur­chase dur­ing the first three weeks of the sea­son as they are deal­ing with other species at that time. With weekly quo­tas in place, leav­ing cod fish in the wa­ter re­sults in lost wage for fish­ers. One sug­ges­tion was in­creas­ing the shelf life of quo­tas by mov­ing to a monthly, in­stead of weekly, quota. This al­lows har­vesters to re­tain quota when pro­ces­sors aren’t buy­ing, and catch at a later date.

Gear re­moval

When the cod sea­son wraps for the year, har­vesters have 30 hours to pull their fish­ing gear from the wa­ter. Har­vesters raised con­cerns about bad weather im­ped­ing this process. DFO stated it doesn’t want fish­er­men putting them­selves in harm’s way when it comes to gear re­trieval in un­favourable con­di­tions, and it’s some­thing that would to be ad­dressed on a case-by-case ba­sis.

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