A changing ocean environment and stock populations, including some recovery in cod stocks, has led fisheries sector players to begin the work of making their own changes for future business success.
A new Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council was announced at the Ramada in St. John's Friday morning, for the purpose of continuing that work.
The council will include representatives for the FFAW-Unifor, right through to the owners of processing facilities in the province.
Companies represented include: Codroy Seafoods Inc, Avalon Ocean Products Inc, Beothic Fish Processors Ltd, Barry Group Inc and Allans Fisheries Ltd.
“Those of us connected to the fishery, we’re extremely concerned about the changes that are happening within our own ecosystem and we do see a diminishing supply of species like shrimp and crab that have really been the backbone of our industry since the moratorium,” Barry said.
“The good news I think is on two fronts — one that we do see significant groundfish stocks re-emerging: on northern cod, on perch and also on turbot. And we think we’re going back to a more historical ecosystem time when new species are going to be a huge part of the fishery in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Barry said there will have to be “a pile of money” invested to make it possible to do more with the resources available and create a viable industry, looking at the future. “Without this, we’ll have very little to look forward to.”
The council's efforts in preparing for and establishing a re-invigorated groundfish fishery (no, not just cod) will have a plate-to-ocean strategy, according to information provided by the FFAW. The basic idea is to decide on and implement the approach to the fish that will generate the best possible end-product, while also finding the best means of introducing that product to international markets.
FFAW president Keith Sullivan noted 70 per cent of current caught species value comes from shellfish, but more can be done with other species.
“It is an opportunity for us to show leadership. Right now, there is going to be transitions and for us to develop prime-quality products, for us to make sure that we have investment in the right places, it’s going to take collaboration,” he said.
The council has been launched based on a 13-page “agreement in principle” that includes more detailed council plans, and notes landings and landed value for groundfish in recent years. In 2014, it states, cod landings were $12.4 million in value, while the total for all groundfish in the province — including halibut, turbot, redfish and flatfish — is shown at roughly $90 million.