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DFO's Northern cod/capelin management plans out soon (not soon enough, of course)

DFO won’t give dates, but the 2023 management plans for northern cod and capelin are expected to be handed down in the “fairly near term,” likely this week. The FFAW has asked for a 25,000-tonne northern cod quota this year, almost double 2022's 12,999 tonnes — and the highest level in 31 years of moratorium.

Pouch Cove dories.

At the same time, processing companies asked DFO for a northern cod quota of 17,000 tonnes, and Labrador alone what’s 20% of whatever total is set.

DFO has the final decision, and last year's quota was announced June 24th.

There are two other cod stocks adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador, including Gulf cod (DFO slapped a moratorium on that fishery in July 2022), and south coast cod (this year's quota is a paltry 1,304 tonnes).

More fishermen are expected to fish cod this year in light of the severe decline in the snow crab price, and the fact not all crab is expected to be landed.

Here are this year's cod prices:


DFO set the 2022 commercial capelin quota at 14,533 tonnes (a rollover from 2021), but none was taken for "market reasons" (to use the department's words).

According to DFO's latest science, the capelin stock remains in the critical zone, and the advice to the minister is to keep removals to the the "lowest possible level."

Even though DFO science can't tell whether fishing/not fishing has ANY impact.

DFO's science has said the amount of capelin taken in the commercial fishery is small relative to consumption in the ecosystem.

The minimum price for Grade A capelin this year is 25¢/lb — 10¢/lb less than last year.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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