FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, April 22, 2022
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is calling on Fisheries and Oceans to continue issuing mackerel licenses to existing license holders in the inshore fleet even though the fishery is closed.
“Owner-operators want to know their mackerel licenses are safe, and will be there for them when the fishery reopens,” says Ryan Cleary, Executive Director of SEA-NL. “Many of them do not trust DFO, there’s no other way to put it.”
"A mackerel license represents a major investment of many thousands of dollars — not just for the license itself — but in terms of the fishing enterprise and gear, and owner-operators want to keep their licenses even if it is just for the privilege of not fishing them.”
Ottawa closed the East Coast mackerel fishery at the end of March, and shut down directed fishing for spring herring in the southern Gulf.
Shortly after, DFO stopped posting mackerel licenses for renewal on its National Online Licensing System (NOLS), which generated immediate reaction from mackerel fishermen around the province.
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 renew his license, and pay the annual fee even though the fishery is closed.
“We want the mackerel licenses put back on NOLS so we can pay our fees, and we’ll know then that we’ll have our licenses for when the fishery reopens,” said Lavers. “We may never be able to fish mackerel again, but for a fee I'll take my chances."
A DFO official has told SEA-NL that members of the inshore fleet are not required to renew their mackerel 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.”
“Only federal fishery policy can change at the whim of the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of the day,” said Cleary.
While the Canadian mackerel fishery is closed, the United States continues fishing the same migratory stock with a 4,963-tonne mackerel quota this year.