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DFO’s fishing vessel registration rules next up for change

Now that DFO had been convinced to increase vessel length for the province’s inshore fleet to 49’11, next up for change is boat registration. Fisheries and Oceans plans to hold public meeting this fall on inshore vessel policies — including registration rules currently in place across Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Fort Amherst (Prosser's Rock) Small Boat Basin just inside The Narrows, the entrance to St. John's harbour.

DFO's fishing vessel registration rules in Eastern Canada are all over the map.

In the Maritime and Gulf regions, once a vessel is registered with a licence, that registration must be in place for at least 30 days before a different vessel can be registered to that licence.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the registration must be in place for 12 months before a different vessel can be registered.

For Indigenous/communal licenses, the time line is one day.

DFO's registration policy is meant to reinforce the "guiding principle" of owner-operators in that the individual issued the license fishes the license.

However, the longer registration time puts Newfoundland and Labrador's inshore fleet at a competitive disadvantage.

In June 2018 the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans carried out a study of fishing vessel length in Atlantic Canada — recommending a full review of DFO's NL policy, and consultation with enterprise owners.

"The Committee believes that inshore licensing policies and regulations should not differ from one Atlantic Province to another," read the report. "However, the committee also recognizes that any change to current licensing policies and regulations need to be supported by a majority of inshore fishers."

To do that, DFO is going to owner-operators directly.

Gone are days (hopefully) when the word of organizations like the FFAW is taken as gospel.

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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