Union exploring shipping out unprocessed cod, McCurdy says
Fisheries union president Earle McCurdy said it won’t be easy.
But he suggested the provincial government has opened up a glimmer of hope for the province’s cod fishery.
Mr. McCurdy explained by being allowed to ship cod whole and unprocessed to the U.S., fishermen might be able to compete and make a decent income.
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers president started a Thursday news conference by saying the 2013 cod fishery on the South Coast in 3Ps zone was an unmitigated failure.
“It was a disaster last year, and we can’t afford to repeat that in 2014. We’re going to need cod as part of the economics of our industry, because a warming trend is improving the environment for groundfish.
“Unfortunately, the flipside of that is it’s less hospitable for shellfish.”
The idea is to start a pilot project to send cod to the U.S.
Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings said in an emailed statement he understands the challenges involved, and he wants to try to help.
“As minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I appreciate the frustrations that cod harvesters have experienced this past year as a result of poor prices and market challenges. That is why this government is open to relaxing minimum processing requirements on cod if compelling pilot projects are proposed.”
Mr. McCurdy said the priority has to be high-quality fish, so Newfoundland cod can compete in a premium market.
“The only chance we have on codfish is in the high-end markets. In the low-end markets, we’re out of business.
“You need the absolute best quality to be able to go toe to toe with the Icelanders or, for that matter, the Nova Scotians.”
More broadly, Mr. McCurdy said he believes minimum processing requirements are a relic of a different era. In 2013, the regulations made it uneconomical to fish, which meant part of the quota wasn’t caught.
“That whole policy area has to really be re-thought. There’s no good having a bunch of regulations and having fish left in the water. That benefits no one.”
St. John’s Telegram