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Hundreds of thousands of pounds of herring dumped off NL due to poor DFO policy

That's the word in recent weeks from herring fishermen around Newfoundland and Labrador as the result of Fisheries and Oceans policy that sets the small-fish tolerance at 20%. When herring seiners haul in catches that exceed the small-fish benchmark (the minimum herring size in NL is 9.75 inches or 24.76 cm), the fish (mostly dead) must be released.

An estimated 300,000/lbs of herring were dumped in this one haul alone off the northeast coast. The sampling process to determine average size often damages a herring's scales, which kills the fish.

On Thursday, to the surprise of many herring fishermen around the province, DFO increased the tolerance of the number of small fish caught and retained to 30% from 20% for the greater than 65' purse seine fleet in the Gulf (fishing zone 4R).

The measure is effective as of 6 a.m. Friday, but is apparently temporary and will be discussed at the 2022 herring advisory meeting.

The immediate reaction of some herring fishermen around the province is that the increase in small-fish tolerance for the Gulf should be extended to all waters around the province.

What's good for one should be good for all.

Not Twillingate fisherman Richard Gillett, who says the increase in small-fish tolerance will still result in fish being destroyed.

An estimated 150,000/lbs of herring were dumped in this haul. The total allowable catch (TAC) for 2J3KLPs herring is set at 14,842 tonnes for 2021-2022, representing a rollover from 2019-2020.

Instead, Gillett recommends the herring fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador waters be managed the same as in the Maritimes.

Fishermen there, he said, land whatever they catch. The fish is sampled when it's landed. There is no dumping, no one is charged, and any small fish is taken directly off their quota.

"Our smallest fish is bigger than the Maritimes biggest fish, and it's all good fish," said Gillett.

Indeed, countries like Iceland do not allow the discarding of fish. What comes aboard the boat, stays aboard the boat.

The same should happen here.

Ryan Cleary,


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i remember a few yrs back that we were not allowed another fisherman to take the excass caplin out of another fishermans caplin trap we had to dump whatever we had left in our trap in a few yrs our caplin fishery started to decline my grandfather told me when dfo took over our fishery it would only be a few yrs and it will be all gone how true a bunch of over educated people making the decisions on a fishery that they know nothing about

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