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Letter: There’s something wrong with cod

A bucket of codfish is loaded from a fisherman’s boat.
Cod stocks still aren’t there for a commercial cod fishery, the studies show.

It will be another decade maybe, research shows, before harvesters can fish codfish commercially. It’s already been a quarter century since we’ve been able to fish cod commercially. Something is not right here.

There has been ample time for cod to be back to commercial status with the minimum amount of cod that has been taken out of the system by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Why aren’t the cod stocks improving? Is it because of predators of cod and cod larvae, or is it due to seismic work for oil that is killing the food of cod and cod larvae? Is it poor science on cod stocks, and they really don’t know what’s out there? Is it because of foreign overfishing because Canada doesn’t have custodial management over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks? Ninety-nine per cent of inshore cod off Labrador, the northeast and the east coast of N.L. migrate to the offshore banks in winter, and a lot of these fish are outside of Canada’s control.

There has been ample time for cod to be back to commercial status with the minimum amount of cod that has been taken out of the system by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The inshore cod fishery is very limited — has always been; we have to wait for the cod to come inshore from the offshore, the temperature of the water has to be right, food like caplin have to appear. Fishing inshore for cod at the best of times was no more than three good months because of storms, late ice conditions, etc. It is crucial that harvesters get the maximum amount of money from this cod resource as they can if the inshore fishery is to survive in its present state.

I read in the online group “Newfoundland Fisherman’s Forum,” comments by people who want to ban gill nets, draggers, and have (hook and line) only, tags for the food fishery. It is not the gear you fish, it’s how it’s used. All this technology been around for centuries and I know technology has improved, but quotas and total allowable catch limits have been put in place to prevent overfishing. That’s most of what we do in N.L. is blame ourselves for our woes. We can never look past the horizon.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don’t need to be going over to Iceland to find better ways to fish, we know how to fish. We’ve been doing it for centuries. We need free enterprise and a competitive price paid to harvesters for a good quality cod. Price will bring the quality.

I think, this time, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not to blame for the crisis with the cod resource. There is something else going on in the ocean and it is time for DFO to focus more on science, foreign overfishing, predation of cod and cod larvae. The Canadian government seriously needs to take control over the continental shelf for fish management.

If these things don’t happen, we may never be able to have a commercial cod fishery again.

 

John Gillett

Inshore fisherman

Twillingate

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