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This year's 64.7¢/lb average cod price lowest since 2015; stewardship fishery closes Thursday

At 64.7¢/lb, the average 2022 price of cod is the lowest in seven years, which, combined with sky-high fuel costs, makes for a hard fishery to make a living at. On the plus side, enterprise owners report excellent catch rates with good size and abundance in the stewardship cod fishery off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (fishing zones 3KL), which is scheduled to close tomorrow, Sept. 29th.

The 2022 fall cod stewardship fishery off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (fishing zones 3KL) will close Thursday, Sept. 28th, two weeks after opening. According to DFO statistics, the average price of cod this year to all fleets was 64.7¢/lb, the lowest price since 2015 when the average price dipped to 61.1¢/lb.

The 2022 cod price agreement between the FFAW and Association of Seafood Producers was hammered out on May 11th — two and a half months before the opening of the fall fishery.

It's ridiculous to be setting prices that far in advance, but there's an ongoing review of the price-setting model in this province for a reason.

The fall prices were $1.05/lb Grade A, 40¢/lb Grade B, and 20¢/lb Grade C, although in recent days some enterprise owners on the northeast coast were reportedly offered $1.30/lb across the board for their cod, with no grading/culling.

While this fall's Grade A codfish price was 30% more than 2021's 80¢/lb, the average price last year was slightly higher at 64.9¢/lb.

The almost 27 million of cod landed to date this year in waters around the province had a landed value of $17.2 million, just shy of last year's total of $17.4 million.

The price of cod pales in comparison to the average prices of other species like snow crab ($6.88/lb), lobster ($7.82/lb), halibut ($4.12/lb), bluefin tuna ($4.11/lb), and turbot ($2.35/lb).

There are three cod fisheries in waters adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador, including northern cod and Gulf cod.

A moratorium was slapped on the Gulf cod fishery in July, and while the northern cod fishery has been under moratorium since 1992, the federal government allows a small-scale "stewardship fishery."

This year there was a change in the northern cod management plan in that 2,600 tonnes or 20% of the 12,999-tonne maximum allowable harvest were allocated specifically to Labrador (fishing zone 2J).

DFO has yet to say how much of that 2,600 tonnes has been caught.

DFO also stopped highlighting in its species reports the tonnage set aside for the cod quality and cod sentinel fisheries, programs run by the FFAW-Unifor that amounted to 224 tonnes in 2020.

SEA-NL wrote the state of this year's northern cod fishery here: Weekly catch limits, trip limits, fishing schedules, and scarce few buyers: cod fishery in nutshell

The total allowable catch of cod off the south coast in fishing zone 3Ps this year was set at 1,346 tonnes, a rollover from the year before.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization serving as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. You can read more about SEA-NL, and join us here.

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