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Capelin questions: Why isn’t the east coast fishery open? Who makes the call — DFO or FFAW?

There are no clear answers to those questions. The inshore fleet has begun capelin fishing in the Gulf, but the fishery off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador remains closed, and in some southern areas the fish has already migrated north.

The east coast capelin fishery is opened bay by bay, with the fish sampled first for minimum size/gender.

Problem is, DFO won’t issue sampling permits until industry/the FFAW/Bill Broderick gives the say so, and the union won’t do that unless all processors agree to buy capelin.

That's second-hand information, of course.

SEA-NL has tried for a week to get answers from DFO, with no response, and it’s not like I can ring up Keith Sullivan for a chat about the latest circus at the union office.

Owner-operators I talk to say some capelin processors are willing to buy, but not all, and the market is down because of the resumption of Iceland’s capelin fishery with a quota of nearly one million tonnes.

The total quota for the waters off Labrador and eastern/southern Newfoundland this year is 14,533 tonnes, and 10,225 tonnes for the Gulf.

What it comes down to is DFO is keeping the east coast capelin fishery closed — even though the quota is set and boats are ready to go — because of markets conditions.

That's not DFO's business.

The department should focus on management/science, which, last I looked, still need some work.

What difference if there are five buyers or 15 as long as boats can sell capelin for the minimum price of 35¢/lb, Grade A?

The time for capelin fishing in St. Mary’s Bay, the Southern Shore, Conception Bay, and, soon enough, Trinity Bay, is over.

Once the capelin are gone, they're gone, and the time for a fishery is past.

Fishing opportunity lost.

Both DFO and the FFAW work for the inshore fleet, not the other way around, and that's what's wrong with this fishery.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

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