Union ex­plor­ing ship­ping out un­pro­cessed cod, McCurdy says

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMES MCLEOD TC ME­DIA

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

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