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‘Unacceptable sacrifice’, Ottawa extends mackerel moratorium when U.S. continues to fish same stock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Wednesday, June 28th, 2023 Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) says a decision by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray to extend the moratorium on mackerel fishing in Canadian waters is an unacceptable sacrifice when the United States continues to fish the same stock.

This picture of dead mackerel on the shores of Charleston, Bonavista Bay was taken on Dec. 23rd, 2022. Enterprise owners speculate the fish died when the water temperatures dropped. Alf Pike photo.


“How foolish is that?” questions Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “DFO science is questionable at best, and now without mackerel fishermen on the water again this year there will be even less data.”

The federal Minister announced Wednesday a continuation of the 2022 closure of commercial and bait fishing for mackerel in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for the 2023 season. Fishing mackerel for food and ceremonial fisheries will remain open.

While Murray said her decision will allow the stock to rebuild, the same stock of Atlantic mackerel was fished in 2022 and again this year by the United States. In February, the U.S. set the 2023 quota for Atlantic mackerel at 3,639 tonnes — down from last year’s 4,963-tonne quota.


DFO's mackerel science is based primarily on annual egg surveys, and the 2020 survey was cancelled outright due to the Covid pandemic.

Fishermen reported unprecedented schools of mackerel from various year classes along Newfoundland’s northeast coast right up to January, with thousands of fish washing up dead on beaches along the northeast coast.

Enterprise owners speculate cold water temperatures killed the mackerel. DFO would not allow the fish to be collected for bait. DFO has also again denied inshore enterprise owners the right to renew their mackerel licenses.

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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 sea-nl.ca to join.

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