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DFO undecided on increasing vessel length for non-core enterprises (no timeline for decision either)

Now that vessel-length has changed to 49'11 for core fishing enterprises in Newfoundland and Labrador, the length should also change for non-core enterprises — most of which are stuck at 28 feet. That's obvious to all hands except DFO, which isn't quite finished analyzing.

Non-core groundfish licenses in Newfoundland and Labrador cannot be sold or transferred, and so die with the license holder. Most non-core license holders are also restricted to a boat-length of 28 feet, which is ridiculous considering the worsening weather of the North Atlantic due to climate change.

Safety was a factor in DFO's decision last year to extend fishing-vessel length for the inshore feet in this province to 49'11 from 39'11.

DFO held a series of meetings across Atlantic Canada this past winter on fishing vessel-related policies — and raised the specific question of whether vessel length should be increased for non-core harvesters.

Yes seemed to be the clear refrain, but DFO has to put that info into a "What we heard document" and post it online.

From there?

"The analysis of this document will inform possible future decisions on vessel related policy matters, including vessel length eligibility for non-core licence holders. The timing for decisions on any changes to the various policies will be depend on how the policies interact and are prioritized."

No wonder the fisheries so f--ked up.


There's also the fact non-core license holders are getting older (many with deteriorating health), and are forced to fish because they can't sell their licenses like core fishermen and retire on the proceeds.

DFO may say safety is the highest priority, but that flies in the face of its non-core policy.

All owner-operators with a clear connection to the fishery should be able to sell their licenses or transfer them as they wish.

According to DFO's most up-to-date numbers, there are 410 non-core licenses remaining in the province, plus 2,742 core enterprises. The 3,152 total is down from 20,000 in 1992.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

See other SEA-NL blog posts on the non-core issue:

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