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DFO to consult on changes to fishing vessel registration rules with eye on East Coast consistency

Details of those consultations — including dates, and other logistics — aren’t worked out just yet. However, DFO revealed its intentions to bring in a consistent registration policy for Atlantic Canada/Quebec in late June with news that the maximum length of fishing vessels in this province’s inshore fleet will be increased to 49’11, bringing them in line with the Maritimes.

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 Maritimes and Quebec, 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 the Newfoundland and Labrador Region, once a vessel is registered with a licence, that registration must be in place for 12 months.

For Indigenous/communal licenses, the registration 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.

Earlier this year DFO held a string of virtual outreach meetings around the province to hear directly from inshore harvesters about issues impacting their fleets, with the question of fishing vessel length front and centre on the agenda.

The vast majority of owner-operators spoke in favour of extending the maximum length of inshore boats to 49’11 from 39’11 to fall in line with inshore fleets in the rest of Atlantic Canada.

That change will come into effect for the 2023 fishing season.

Ryan Cleary, Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization serving as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. You can read more about SEA-NL, and join us here.

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