Recreational cod fishery gets extension
For the most part, the announcement of an extension to the recreation cod fishery is being viewed as a step in the right direction.
As the news filtered out, there was a positive rumble amongst the couple dozen of people who came out for the announcement in Heart’s Delight Islington
However, there was some standing on the James G. Reid Memorial Marina Friday morning that wondered why Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote couldn’t extend it longer than the 14 days announced.
“I expected to hear we were going to get something like the rest of Atlantic Canada,” said Heart’s Delight-Islington resident Lou Sooley. “The 14 days is good news for us, but I’d like to see a lot more. It should open June or July right till the end of September.”
A soft westerly wind blew across the wharf as Foote – standing in for Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo — made a pair of announcements.
“As in the past, the fishery will run for three weeks in the summer and one week in the fall,” said Foote. “But this year, the fishery will also be open on all weekends.”
Those weekends will include the Canada Day and Labour Day long weekends. Breaking it down, the fishery will run from July 16 to Aug. 7, as well as from Sept. 24 to Oct. 2 — a total of 46 days.
The event was not without a minor disruption. When the floor opened for questions from the media, one resident voiced his displeasure with the announcement.
He called it a ‘joke’ and questioned why Newfoundland’s season couldn’t emulate those of the other Atlantic Provinces.
“Fourteens days is what they looked at in regards to the stock,” said Foote. “We want to make sure that we don’t do anything at this point in time that will harm the stock. What we’re doing is doing it in incremental stages. The 14 days allow additional weekends which I think is really important. That’s what I’ve heard from people talking to me.
“We’re going to be looking at this again. We’re looking for input … as to whether we should go further from this. This is one step, give us time to work with the department and the government to bring it along to where it should be.”
The same management measures remain in place. There is a five fish daily limit and a maximum of 15 per boat, with no high-grading or discarding of other groundfish, as well as no fishing in closed times.
Those expanded dates also apply to the recreational groundfish fishery along Quebec’s lower north shore.
The increase in fishing days can be applied to tour boat operators, as they’ll be able to apply for a license for increased trip limits. These licenses can provide information that’ll help DFO track the number of cod people catch under the new regulations.
Improved safety was also mentioned as a positive offshoot of the increase in fishing days. Those heading out on the water now have more room when it comes to choosing which days they fish on.
There was some talk of a tag system, but the minister indicated that there were no plans to implement one this yea. It could come as early as next year.
It is not known whether there will be a fee for it.
“The urgency right now was that we extend the fishery as we were asked to do,” said Foote. “It’s an incremental step in looking at where we take this next year.”
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote (middle) announced changes to the recreational cod fishery on Friday at the James G. Reid Memorial Marina in Heart’s Delight-Islington. She was flanked by Long Range Mountains MP Gudie Hutchings (left) and St. John’s South-Mount Pearl MP Seamus O’Regan.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote (right) speaks with residents at the James G. Reid Memorial Marina in Heart’s Delight-Islington on Friday.