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‘We are fishermen too’

Designated 'non-core’ in the mid-1990s, 41 fight for the right
to sell or transfer their commercial fishing licenses so they don’t die with them. 

According to DFO, of the 3,152 commercial license holders in the province — including 410 non-core, and 2,742 core. Most of the 410 non-core licenses are for groundfish such as cod, but around 100 are solely for lobster. An estimated 50 non-core licenses are for both groundfish and lobster. Non-core lobster licenses can be sold, under certain circumstances. DFO refuses to change its non-core policy, the criteria for which was implemented in 1996.


Patrick Pardy, 71, is a non-core groundfish license holder from Terranceville on the Burin Peninsula. Besides not being able to sell or transfer his license, Patrick’s also restricted in vessel length to 28 feet (a safety issue with climate change), and ineligible for federal funding under the Atlantic Fisheries Fund to purchase fishing gear. Read more about Patrick’s story, and the non-core policy here.


Testimonials of non-core fishermen


Twillingate, NL

“I fished for 30 years, but through all the confusion when (John) Crosbie closed the fishery, I along with many bonafide fishermen at the time ended up with a Level 2 (non-core) license instead of a core license, which screwed us out of crab license. Then we were disabled from making a living from fishing. I want to sell my license to a core fisherman so that he can make a better living. I’m hoping that DFO will reconsider and help us all in this matter.”


Shoal Cove West, NL

“I have been fishing for 60-odd years, but I have no one to pass my core license to with my kids now working away. I would like to sell my license so I have something to pass on to my kids.”


Conche, NL

“I have a groundfish license and I called the union last spring asking them if I could sell out as I am ready to retire, but I was told that I could not because I was non-core. I fished all my life for 50-odd years and like everyone else the fish was always sold in the skipper’s name on the receipts.”


Terranceville, NL

"With a moratorium on Atlantic mackerel, and with herring now a bait fishery, fourth generation fisherman Patrick Pardy only had a 14,000/lb cod quota in 2022 to make a living from. "I am now 70 years old, and my health isn’t what it was, but I have no choice but to  continue fishing until my license is changed to core, so I can pass it on to my son, who’s 44 years old now and an apprentice. This is the biggest discrimination I ever seen in my life. We are fishermen too.”


Newtown, NL

“I have fished this license for 30-plus years —12 of those years with my son. I think I have earned the right to pass this licence on to my son so he can continue to fish in an industry we both have had many enjoyable years in.”


Baie Verte, NL

“I started fishing with Dad when I was 12 years old. I am now 64. I fished ever since I had to go offshore because there wasn’t a living inshore for my family on cod alone with a non-core license. I fished for over 30 years for someone else on a longliner until it got too hard for me with health problems. For the last two years I fished cod and squid. It’s about time for someone to change the licensing system so fishers like me can sell our non-core license like every other fisher person.”


Conception Harbour, NL

“In 1995 I was told my licence didn’t meet core because my cod landings were not enough and they took my groundfish licence. I went to an appeal and pleaded my case that it was impossible for me to make core because the licence wasn’t old enough. Since then I have fished everything available to me for the past 32 years. DFO should never have given me a groundfish when there was a freeze, and I would not haveput thousands of dollars into the fishery.”


Great Northern Peninsula, NL

“I have held a groundfish license for 40 years. When the moratorium started I was told I couldn't be a core fisherman due to the fact I didn't have any sales receipts under my license to prove I was fishing. The reason being was that I fished with my father all my life and everything was sold under his license. That was the way it was done back at that time."


Great Northern Peninsula, NL

“I have been told by the FFAW that the only way I can become core is to buy a core license. I have a lifetime of experience in the fishing industry, and have held licenses for almost 40 years, but cannot pass them down to my sons if I wanted to. I don’t know who makes the rules and regulations for this industry, but it is time for someone to take a serious look at this. The fishing industry is dying, and it’s almost impossible for the younger generation to get into.”



“I am sending this on behalf of –––––. He purchased a groundfish license two weeks before the cod  moratorium. He was fishing all is life, and is still active at the age of 85. First when he got the license he got a crab licence, and fished it for a year until the FFAW came up with the policy that you had to have earning of $3,000 dollars to qualify for core. The license owner that he purchased the groundfish license from was deceased three years before he acquire it from the estate. He appealed to the union, but it was denied.”



"I am 66 years old. I am a non-core fisherman and I've been fishing for 50 years. After fishing my whole life it has now come time that I am unable to do so anymore. I am retired, and what does that mean for me and many other fishermen in my position? I’m stuck with my groundfish license, not able to transfer it to a family member or sell them. They have retired with me while there is a whole new generation that can benefit and continue with them. Why take that away from us and them? Do what’s right. I hope a change is made."

If you are 'non-core' send us a message or testimonial and we’ll get back to you.

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