Com­mon themes high­lighted dur­ing recre­ational ground­fish con­sul­ta­tions

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL HER­RIDGE

It was mostly more of the same as pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions on the pos­si­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion of a new li­cens­ing and tags sys­tem for next year’s recre­ational ground­fish fishery wrapped up in Marys­town Nov. 21.

The De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) held a to­tal of eight ses­sions around the prov­ince through­out Novem­ber.

The Marys­town con­sul­ta­tion and a ses­sion in Car­bon­ear on Nov. 17 were added to the sched­ule on Nov. 10.

Pa­tri­cia Wil­liams, a re­source man­ager with DFO, said a num­ber of com­mon themes came up time and again dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tions.

“We are hear­ing a lot of con­cern about the use of tags – the pro­posed use of tags in a fishery – and whether or not DFO might have other al­ter­na­tives to be able to con­trol the to­tal level of ef­fort and un­der­stand the to­tal amount of har­vest in this fishery specif­i­cally,” she told The South­ern Gazette af­ter the meet­ing.

“Based on real good ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple have sug­ges­tions about sea­son, and if we were to lengthen the sea­son and have a li­cense, would we be able to maybe re­move the daily bag limit and re­move the trip limit that’s cur­rently in place.”

It’s also clear from the hear­ings there’s a will­ing­ness to work un­der a li­cens­ing regime and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about catches, she said.

Many of the roughly 15 peo­ple in at­ten­dance in Marys­town shared those same opin­ions.

Sea­son length and daily bag limit were im­por­tant for Marys­town res­i­dent Devin Kil­foy, who works off­shore on a shift ro­ta­tion. Kil­foy said he doesn’t agree with a daily bag limit and sug­gested the sea­son should start in June and run un­til the end of Septem­ber.

“It’s very costly for me to take my kids out and I want a good day to be able to do it,” he said. “So in re­gards to that, I think we should be able to catch how­ever many tags you guys give us – that’s how many we should be able to use on any given day un­til the tags are used up.”

Others in­di­vid­u­als at­tend­ing the meet­ing in Marys­town said the recre­ational ground­fish fishery has been prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent in the 3Ps fish­ing zone, lo­cated along the prov­ince’s south coast, in re­cent years. It was sug­gested more flex­i­bil­ity could re­vive the fishery in the re­gion.

“We’re hear­ing that comment re­peat­edly and we’re hear­ing it from a lot of dif­fer­ent sources, that the num­bers weren’t there in 3Ps, the ac­tiv­ity lev­els are nowhere where they were 10, 15 years ago, 20 years ago,” DFO of­fi­cial Jerry Walsh said dur­ing the ses­sion.

The pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions weren’t the only way for peo­ple to voice their opin­ions on po­ten­tial changes to the recre­ational ground­fish fishery. Writ­ten and emailed sub­mis­sions are be­ing ac­cepted un­til the last day of the month.

A summary re­port will then be com­pleted and posted on­line in the near fu­ture.

“There’s noth­ing de­cided yet,” Walsh pointed out early in the meet­ing.

PAUL HER­RIDGE/TC ME­DIA

Jerry Walsh and Pa­tri­cia Wil­liams, of­fi­cials with the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans, were in Marys­town Nov. 21 for a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the pos­si­ble im­plan­ta­tion of a new li­cens­ing and tags sys­tem for next year’s recre­ational ground­fish fishery in the prov­ince.

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