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'Non-core' groundfish licences for sale in Nova Scotia not the same as non-core here: DFO

The Nova Scotia “non-core" groundfish licences for sale in the classified section of the Navigator aren’t actually “non-core” as in the Newfoundland and Labrador definition of non-core — groundfish licences that can't be sold or transferred, and die with the licence holder.

According to DFO, at the end of 2020 there were 3,311 commercial fishing licenses in Newfoundland and Labrador — including 2,819 core (85%), and 492 non-core (15%). Non-core licences can't be sold or transferred, and die wth the holder. SEA-NL is trying to change that.

The "non-core" references to the NS groundfish licences for sale in the Navigator refer to the licence not being attached to a core enterprise.

Said a DFO official, "It would appear to be fishers wishing to re-issue (transfer/sell) their groundfish licences, but not the core status which would remain with the fisher."

Questions were raised during the November boat show in St. John's about how "non-core" licences can be sold in Nova Scotia, but not here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Again, that's not the case.

You also can't blame the Navigator for speaking to fishermen in their own language — not DFO speak.

In the end, the ad should read: "Groundfish without core ... rather than Groundfish non-core."


SEA-NL has agreed to fight for non-core licence holders in Newfoundland and Labrador who want the freedom to either sell their groundfish licences or pass them on.

A similar fight is happening in the Maritimes with Class B lobster licences (which is what renewed the debate about non-core licences here. Class B lobster licences also can't be sold or transferred.

Besides the fact a non-core commercial fishing licence in this province can’t be sold or handed down, the holder is also restricted on vessel size (28 feet, which is a danger in itself), and is disqualified from applying for funding under federal government programs like the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.

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.

Over the past week SEA-NL has had meetings with two federal/provincial politicians, and raised the non-core issue.

So far there's sympathy, which is a start.

SEA-NL is also in the early stages of organizing a petition to be presented to the House of Commons.

Non-core licence holders are asked to contact SEA-NL at to join our efforts. Or, if you know a non-core licence holder, contact us with their names and we'll reach out to them.

DFO will not release the list of non-core licence holders in NL for confidentiality reasons, which is why we need a hand.

Ryan Cleary,


To sign-up for SEA-NL'S January founding convention go here. If you have need any assistance registering please contact Rose Genge at 745-8157.

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