Get the latest summer forecast and weather knowledge from Cindy Day
Want to become a member? Check out the benefits here.
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: August 10, 2020
The commercial fishery for northern cod is about to begin on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The season for fishermen in Labrador, in Zone 2J, begins Aug. 2 and runs until Sept. 26.
For fishermen on the island, in Zone 3KL, the season runs Aug. 9 to Nov. 14.￼
While they have the details on quotas, weekly catch limits and start dates for the fishery, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union is still in a stew.
On Monday, when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the harvest plan and opening dates￼, the FFAW promptly issued a news release of its own, reiterating concerns over DFO decision-making, the delay of information for harvesters and the opening dates.
The FFAW contends the start dates are “later than what was requested by harvesters, taking away valuable time for quality and abundant fish.
“While we expect delays due to the global pandemic, time and time again this summer we have seen not only delays from DFO, but also a blatant disregard for harvesters or input,” FFAW president Keith Sullivan stated in the news release.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council (NL-GIDC) also reacted after reviewing DFO’s harvest plan.
The NL-GIDC, which includes FFAW representatives and some processors in its membership, said while it supported most of the measures of the cod management plan for 2020, it had some concerns.
The group also said it was surprised to see the management measures for the 2J portion of the stewardship management area.
“While the 2J3KL cod stock is managed as a single unit, DFO has decided the 2J portion of that zone will have harvest limits significantly different from the 3KL division without any adjustment to the total allowable catch,” the group said in a news release.
One of its members, Paul Grant, executive vice-president of Biasa Fish Processors Ltd., said in a news release, “Providing a management approach that is acceptable to harvesters from all areas is a difficult endeavor. While we understand the specific problems facing the harvesters and processors operating in 2J, we are concerned that the large discrepancy between 2J and 3K measures will create a challenging precedent.”
The NL-GIDC had also proposed opening dates of July 26 for Area 2J and Aug. 2 for Area 3KL.
There is certainly the option to fish both caplin and cod.”
Currently, some harvesters on the northeast coast are fishing or have just finished fishing caplin.
The caplin fishing season will wind down over the next few days.
It begs the question whether all harvesters in 3KL are ready to fish cod yet, and whether all processors are currently ready and able to process cod.
A spokesperson for the FFAW told SaltWire Network, “There is much more participation in the cod fishery and far fewer participants in the short caplin fishery. For those who do fish caplin, the fishery is often a matter of days for many, so there is certainly the option to fish both caplin and cod.”￼
According to the FFAW, the Icewater Seafoods processing plant at Arnold’s Cove is processing cod now, and several other processors will be ready and able to process once the northern cod fishing season opens.￼
While cod harvesters begin to gear up to start their fishing season, the FFAW indicates it will continue to fish for answers from DFO.
Earlier this year the FFAW called on DFO to provide a slight increase to the quota for 2020. The union asked that it be set at just over 14,000 metric tonnes. DFO decided to hold the quota at the 2019 level of 12,350 tonnes.
The FFAW wants a meeting with federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to discuss cod management and other issues.
In particular, the union says it wants to talk to Jordan about what it calls “the department’s pattern of ignoring input from fish harvesters on management decisions … for nothern cod.”
A spokesperson from Jordan’s office confirmed the minister has received a request for a meeting with the FFAW.
“Minster Jordan has met with the FFAW multiple times through this challenging COVID period, and she looks forward to speaking with the FFAW again in the near future to discuss these issues as well as other concerns they may have,” said the spokesperson.
DFO also confirmed, in response to questions from SaltWire Network, that the season opening for the northern cod fishery in the past is typically the first week of August.
In 2018 the season opened Aug. 5 and ran to Nov. 4, and in 2019 the season ran from Aug. 4 to Nov. 24.