Cod left in the water

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Go ahead and mark down June 26, 2013 on your calendar as a date of importance.

It was on this day the federal government announced a plan geared to try to convince some Newfoundland fishermen to go catch cod.

No that’s not a misprint.

On Wednesday, Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced a pilot project for cod for 2013 in area 3Ps along the south coast of Newfoundland. The department is concerned that “a significant portion of the total quota available to industry is not being utilized.”

The pilot project will see DFO “re-allocate, in-season, unused cod quota to active harvesters.”

Basically, that means if a fisherman doesn’t catch his/her quota, then DFO will look at giving some of that quota to a fisherman who will. Just imagine that! The federal government is trying to get fishermen to catch cod, stopping just short of saying “pretty please.”

“In 3Ps, cod IQs are in place to provide stability and certainty to fish harvesters when planning their fishing activities,” DFO stated in a notice to fishermen. “In the interest of fostering greater utilization of the total quota available to industry DFO has agreed to provide additional flexibility to harvesters who wish to participate in this fishery.”

How many of us ever thought after 1992 we would live to see fishermen not wanting to catch cod? But that’s where we find ourselves, not because anyone is lazy but because cod simply isn’t worth catching.

Fishermen, especially those with smaller enterprises, in many cases would lose money harvesting it so for the last few years some of them have opted to leave it in the water.

Whoever thought cod would be practically unfeasible?

It’s a sign of the times and how things have changed. The modern fishery is one where shellfish is king and cod is a nuisance.

But there are challenges waiting ahead.

In the next entry on Longlines I’ll try to give some perspective for the benefit of those foolish souls among the masses who incorrectly believe the return of the mighty cod would be a wonderful salve for all that ails the current fishing industry.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine,

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