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DFO to poll owner-operators directly about vessel-length policy

Fisheries and Oceans officials say they plan to contact all core enterprise owners directly in the coming months to poll them on whether vessel-length regulations should be changed in Newfoundland and Labrador. That's on top of the virtual meetings DFO is holding this week around the province, where the topic of vessel length is front and centre on the agenda.

There are two maximum base lengths for inshore fishing vessels in Eastern Canada — 39'll in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 49'11 in the Maritimes. Over 40' boats from the Maritimes must be cut down to take part in this province's inshore fishery. Dave Callahan photo/Twitter.

SEA-NL supports a standard vessel size for Atlantic Canada (the resolution passed during the Feb. 8th convention), as did most inshore harvesters attending DFO's Monday evening virtual meeting for fishing zone 3K — White Bay, Notre Dame Bay.

Reasons for going longer included improved safety (No. 1), changing environmental conditions, and a uniform policy for Atlantic Canada.

Find DFO's schedule for upcoming virtual outreach meetings here. The next meeting is planned for Labrador this evening 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Atlantic time zone (7:30 p.m. -9:30 p.m. Newfoundland time zone).


"It's a lot easier to have a sensible boat, and not have to chop her to pieces."

"I’m a part owner of a under 40ft enterprise in area 3k. I support the vessel-length changes to allow people in this fleet to go to 50feet. Also when the vote is taken it should only involve enterprise owners in the less than 40ft fleet."

"I’m (an) owner/operator of under 40 ft in 3K. I fully support the vessel-length changes as it puts people’s safety in priority, and that’s what should matter most."

"I'm an owner-operator here in 3K3c under 40 fleet. I agree by far to be able to go bigger in size. I’m one of the younger fishermen/woman in my area. Most of fishermen are close to 60/65 years and older and have no interest in going into a bigger vessel due to they are soon retiring but we need to think of the future and safety of our fishers and which direction the fishery is moving."

"I would love to see it go to 50 feet, if for nothing else safety reasons. You can buy a boat and cut the head off and not be seaworthy. That’s ok. It’s about time these rules change before a disaster happens."

"I'm a core enterprise owner in 3ps in the under 40 vessel class. I personally think that this rule should be reviewed. In my area most fisheries are fished by IQ (individual quota) so it would not create any extra stress on the fisheries. I think it would create better safety, and bring us online with other parts of Atlantic Canada."

"I'm an owner/operatorI in 3K. I would love to see it go to 50 feet. The main reason is for safety, and to have the ability to bring the allowable pot limit in in a safe manner. Also here on the northeast coast the outer limits of 3D takes you out to almost 50 miles. DFO also encourages an early fishery with an early closing date, so to be able to fish in a bit harsher weather would do wonders to future resources."


Other issues discussed at Monday night's virtual meeting included more inshore harvester representation on DFO science assessments (snow crab is reportedly going on this week), increasing trip limits in the turbot fishery so quota isn't left in the water, a better mackerel quota-sharing arrangement for the province's harvesters, and a call to allow buddying up in the northern cod fishery.

Buddying up in the cod fishery has been an issue on the northeast coast for several years, with harvesters saying it will improve safety and reduce costs.

DFO has said allowing for the buddy-up policy in the cod fishery would increase participation rates and drop the overall weekly limit.

From SEA-NL's perspective, DFO NL should poll owner-operators directly more often on important policy issues — with the official results broken down by fleets and published for all hands to see.


1) Introduction

2) licenSing requests, NOLS and service standards.

3) Vessel Length/replacement policy

4) Inshore Regulations

5) Open Agenda

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail

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