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Four days left to sign non-core petition; all harvesters should have right to sell/transfer licenses

Of the 3,202 inshore fishing enterprises in the province today (far fewer than the over 4,000 the FFAW talks about), almost 15% (454) are "non-core", meaning when those aging owner-operators die, their enterprises will die with them. Non-core groundfish licenses can't be sold or handed down, a DFO policy that the petition is out to change.

Sign the non-core petition here: Any Canadian can sign the petition — you don't have to be a fisherman/woman.

Launched by SEA-NL in early March, the petition closes for signatures on June 30th, and must have at least 500 names to be presented to the House of Commons in Ottawa. (As of today there are 294.)

DFO brought in the non-core policy — which Richard Cashin recommended, and the FFAW went along within the 1990s after the collapse of the commercial cod fisheries to reduce the number of fishermen.

Only the non-core policy unfairly targeted many fishermen who — despite having a historical attachment to the fishery — held other jobs, and did not/could not depend on the fishery as their primary or sole source of income.

Many worked on fishing boats whereby money from a fish sale was put in a single fisherman’s name, and so they couldn’t prove attachment to the fishery, with little support, financial or otherwise, to appeal their non-core designation.

Inshore harvesters don't have pension plans, and often use money from their sale of their licences to fund their retirement.

That can't happen with non-core licence holders, many of whom are aging and have deteriorating health, but continue to work despite the risks.

Since 2020 alone the number of non-core enterprises has fallen by almost 8% (to 454 from 492).

The 3,202 commercial enterprises in the province today (that's independent core and non-core) share between them a total of 22,538 inshore commercial fishing licences (including licence shares).

A licence share is the percentage of a licence that is combined with an existing licence through DFO's enterprise exiting/combining policy.

For example, a snow crab licence with an additional quota is actually one licence combined with a 100% share of another licence.

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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