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Fisherman insists on paying for mackerel license even though fishery closed: 'I don't trust DFO'

Well-known fisherman Boyd Lavers of Port Saunders on the Great Northern Peninsula has fished millions of pounds of mackerel over the 18 years he’s been at it, and insists on continuing to pay the $104 annual license fee even though the fishery is under moratorium.

Fisherman Boyd Lavers of Port Saunders owns-operates the seiner Brayden and Georgia.

Ottawa slapped a moratorium on the mackerel fishery at the end of March, and shut down directed fishing for spring herring in the southern Gulf.

After the moratorium was announced, DFO stopped posting mackerel licenses for renewal on its National Online Licensing System (NOLS).

That generated immediate reaction from mackerel fishermen around the province, who don't trust DFO to get their licenses back.

A DFO official in this province explained it this way:

"Given the closure in place in the Atlantic mackerel fishery, fish harvesters holding licences that are only for commercial or bait Atlantic mackerel fishing are not required to renew their licenses to maintain eligibility as long as the fishery remains closed for conservation reasons, as provided by the current commercial fisheries licensing policy for eastern Canada."

Boyd Lavers doesn't believe it.

"We don't trust DFO, and it's as simple as that. We want the mackerel licenses put back on NOLS so we can pay our fees, and we know then that we have our licenses for when the fishery reopens. We may never be able to fish mackerel again, I don't know, but for a license fee of $104 I'll take my chances."

Canada's moratorium on mackerel has been condemned by groups like the PEI Fishermen's Association, which points out that as Canada decreases its total allowable catch of mackerel, the amount of fish available to the US fleet increases.

Like slapping a moratorium on northern cod while foreign fleets fished away outside 200 miles.

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 Please sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.

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