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Capelin fishery dead in water off east coast, opened off west (but not much landed yet)

When it comes to capelin, DFO has one policy for western Newfoundland, and another for eastern. The capelin fishery off the west coast opened on June 7th, with no sampling first for size or sex. The capelin fishery off the east coast has yet to open, with sampling in every bay (even though the sampling can lead to discards).

The 2022 capelin quota off Labrador and eastern Newfoundland (fishing zones 2J,3KL), and off the island's south coast (fishing zone 3Ps) has been set at 14,533 tonnes, a rollover from last year. The Gulf capelin quota (fishing zones 4RST) was increased by 10% over 2021 to 10,225 tonnes.

Then there’s price: 35¢/lb for Grade A. The inshore fleet — including three over 65 footers owned by the Barry Group — are supposedly fishing for that price on the west coast.

Only not much capelin is said to have been landed yet. According to DFO statistics, only 5% of the almost 25,000-tonne quota has been taken.

DFO slapped a one-year moratorium on the cod fishery in the northern Gulf last week, although keep in mind the northern cod moratorium was supposed to be for two years, and this is year 30.

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray also announced in late March there will be no commercial or bait fishing for herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic mackerel in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.


According to the FFAW, the Association of Seafood Producers asked the province's price-setting panel earlier this week for a capelin price reconsideration, but the request was denied.

In the meantime, the clock ticks on the east coast capelin fishery as the fish migrate north, and females spawn out.

In fact, add capelin to the growing list of panel decisions (northern shrimp, sea cucumber) that are not resulting in commercial fisheries.


The Barry Group, a fish processing company, also holds three greater than 65-foot licences consisting of mackerel, capelin, and herring.

While DFO's fleet separation policy is supposed to divide the harvesting and processing sectors (not very well), there is an exception.

Corporations (processing companies) that held inshore fishing licences prior to 1979 could hold onto those licences, but they could not be issued additional licences.

Companies that held fishing licences prior to 1979 could only transfer to another company that held a licence pre 1979.

Ryan Cleary, Executive Director, SEA-NL To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit

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