Inshore cod recovery held back by cartels and DFO decisions

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Glen Whiffen’s article “Fishermen tired of getting pushed around” (The Telegram, March 29) identified two chronic situations hampering the recovery of Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore cod fisheries: the lack of real competition among buyers due to provincial government regulation and the federal government condoned, irresponsible practice of permitting fishing on spawning grounds during spawning season.

Most provinces in Canada will permit almost anyone to buy and sell fish as long as they meet rudimentary health standards.

Why do we continue to operate with a politically influenced, monopoly cartel of fish companies here? All it does is stifle entrepreneurial creativity and restrict international market access.

This is not the way to administer an export-based seafood industry with potential markets on several continents.

It is far too shortsighted, and the sooner it ends, the better.

Similarly, the decision to permit fishing for groundfish, especially cod, during spawning season off the south coast of Newfoundland in NAFO sub-area 3Ps must be challenged for its shortsightedness and lack of management integrity.

This same zone was identified by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists in 2007 to contain areas of the ocean which generate high levels of species abundance and biodiversity.

Such areas have been recognized as crucial to maintaining healthy oceans and abundant fish stocks. They are known as Ecological and Biological Significant Areas (EBSA)s and are located off the south coast of Newfoundland.

They include: Placentia Bay, the southwest shelf, edge and slope of the Grand Bank, St. Pierre Bank, the Laurentien Channel and Slope, and Burgeo Bank.

(See Placentia Bay/Grand Banks Large Ocean Management Area Integrated Management Plan, DFO, 2007, page 23)

Even with many of these areas closed or partially closed, there would still be large areas open for commercial fishing activity.

More protection needed

However, under the current fisheries management scheme none of these areas have any protection from bottom contact industrial fishing technologies.

Permitting parts of these significant ocean habitats to recover would serve as a long-term rebuilding solution for cod stocks along the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula, and the south and west coasts of Newfoundland.

One can only conclude that the thinking that went into this decision could only be classed as “junk science” — that is, faulty scientific information used to advance special interests. In this latter decision, the minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, needs to be held accountable.

In her position as the most powerful DFO official she has agreed to a plan which will do nothing to foster much needed cod and other groundfish recovery in this area.

Fred Winsor, conservation chair

Atlantic Canada Chapter,

Sierra Club Canada

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. Pierre Bank, Laurentien Channel Burgeo Bank Placentia Bay/Grand Banks Large Ocean Management Area Integrated Management Plan Sierra Club Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, Placentia Bay Grand Bank

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Recent comments

  • Louisette Lanteigne
    April 09, 2015 - 20:48

    My ancestors fished these lands for 400 years. My grandfathers, both boat builders and fishermen knew the fishing would end due to trawling destroying the nesting grounds. They want the oil more than fish. Kill fisheries get tar sands workers. Kill fish, less constraints to get to the oil under the sea. They have shark derbies still. They ignored listing porbeagle sharks as endangered. Less sharks more squid eating young cod. destroy the predators to allow over population of lesser more damaging predators to kill off the fisheries. They want oil more than fish. That is the root of this bad management. The Harper Gov't bumped up cod quotas when they knew the numbers were already unsustainable. They don't even have the staff to police or the budget to reasonably enforce. This is a designed disaster and Harper Gov't is to blame. They also burn Tar Sands petcoke for power generation in Nova Scotia. That stuff is poison that falls into the water and food system too.

  • Henry Jefford
    April 16, 2014 - 19:28

    I read about the problems with fishing on spawning grounds, over fishing, damage done to the fish stock by the great seal population! its the fisher people or men that know what is wrong with the fishery ! and only they can speak up and change it, ITS their living that is being destroyed! Why not demand changes be made to protect your lively Hood ?

    • Louisette Lanteigne
      April 09, 2015 - 20:54

      Many of the young men are not there to speak up. They are at the Tar Sands making money for their family. The older fellas are not internet savvy or too busy fishing or fixing nets. Some might not even have good internet. The government didn't support Maritimes like other provinces. Many areas were designated to be the bottom that feeds the top. My folks lacked banking systems in their community. They had to start a credit union in Caraquet to get money flowing. They did it on their own.