Recovering cod means rebuilding time
Rebuilding our cod fishery will not happen overnight. It will take time, the best science, a strong strategy, dedication and willingness to dialogue and collaborate. But we must kickstart the process.
For over 23 year years, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been partners in respecting a moratorium on commercial cod fishing. In 2013, DFO developed a three-year management plan that allowed harvesters to take 5,000 pounds of round cod. In 2016, a decision will have to be made to maintain this quota or increase it.
Given the reports over the past number of years of numerous cod during the food fisheries and the sentinel fisheries, I believe the federal government should at least double this quota. We cannot wait 10 years, as has been suggested, to start the rebuilding process, including infrastructure, skills and marketing. I encourage anyone, including inshore and offshore harvesters, to weigh in on this issue and to let DFO know directly where you stand.
In the meantime, I call upon the provincial and federal governments to release the draft rebuilding plan for the northern cod committed to be released at the end of 2014. A similar plan was initiated for the southern Newfoundland Atlantic cod stocks in fishing area 3Ps, where there is a commercial Cod fishery. A rebuilding plan for northern cod will not only ensure the sustainability of the stock, but maximize opportunities for harvesters and processors.
Our cod fishery was once a significant part of our provincial fishery. With our cod recovering, it must be a priority of both levels of government to ensure that cod continues to play an increasingly strong role in contributing to the wellbeing of harvesters and coastal communities throughout the province.