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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  • 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 ?