After being unable to find a buyer in on the island, an Arnold's Cove fisherman wants the province to drop minimum processing requirements and let plants in the province export cod unprocessed.
Peter Leonard said the Icewater Seafoods Inc. plant in Arnold's Cove isn't buying cod. The plant is the largest processor of groundfish in the province, and the only companies buying cod now are small processors for the in-province market.
© Submitted photo
Arnold’s Cove fisherman Peter Leonard says there’s a market in Boston for head-on, gutted codfish. He wants the province to relax the processing rules so products such as this can be sold to outside markets when fish plants are not buying cod.
Boats are spending time tied up when they could be out fishing cod and adding to fish harvesters' revenue for the year.
"It's the downtime," said Leonard. "We have a very good crab fishery, and species like whelk, but if you can fish other species like herring and cod, all those species add up to your business. To me, it's downtime, unnecessary downtime that hurts. You need to be able to fish more than one species."
What's extra aggravating for fishermen such as Leonard is that this year, for the first time, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) gave them the option to take cod quotas that weren't being used.
The price for cod right now is $0.50 per pound. In 2012 and 2011 it was $0.60, and in 2010 it was $0.62 in zone 3Ps, where Leonard fishes.
Leonard believes there's a market for head-on, gutted cod on the mainland, namely the Boston seafood market, where he says his catch would fetch higher prices than here.
The province's minimum processing requirements, which have been in place for many years, are intended protect fish plant jobs by ensuring fish is processed before it leaves the province.
Leonard said if the plants aren't buying cod, shipping it out of province won't affect fish plant jobs, and will give fishermen another source of revenue. Plants and plant workers could benefit by storing the cod and transporting out of province unprocessed.
"If there's some groundfish plant out there that wants to ship unprocessed cod outside the province, they should have the right to do it," said Leonard. "It would be a better price for fishermen, and more work for some of those plants who want to ship it outside."
Alberto Wareham, owner of the Icewater Seafoods plant in Arnold's Cove, said his plant will start buying cod in early November, when the quality and quantity of cod is greatest. Leonard said that means a small window of time to catch his quota of cod before the season closes.
As for buying cod to ship out of the province unprocessed, Wareham said he's not interested.
"That idea wouldn't work," he said. "Our business is buying cod and selling the finished product, not acting as a middleman."