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Vessel-length must change for non-core enterprises (but then non-core policy must go altogether)

DFO Is asking the question directly: "Now that the vessel-length barrier has changed to 49'11 for core enterprises in the NL region, should there also be a change in the vessel length for non-core enterprises?" You're damn right there should be. In fact, DFO's non-core policy should be scuttled altogether.

Non-core groundfish licenses in Newfoundland and Labrador cannot be sold or transferred, and so die with the license holder. According to DFO's most up-to-date numbers, there are 410 non-core licenses remaining in the province, plus 2,742 core enterprises. The 3,152 total is down from 20,000 in 1992.

DFO posed the question about non-core vessel length earlier this week during one of two meetings scheduled across the province to gather feedback specifically about polices related to fishing vessels.

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 23rd at the Albatross Hotel in Gander, and all non-core license holders are urged to attend.

If you can't attend in person there's a virtual option at this link:


Most non-core license holders (which can be for either groundfish or lobster or both) are restricted to a boat-length of 28 feet, which is ridiculous considering the worsening weather of the North Atlantic due to climate change.

Safety was a factor in DFO's decision last year to extend fishing-vessel length for the inshore feet in this province to 49'11 from 39'11.

There is no way to justify leaving the non-core length at 28' feet.

There's also the fact non-core license holders are getting older (many with deteriorating health), and are forced to fish because they can't sell their licenses like core fishermen and retire on the proceeds.

DFO may say safety is the highest priority, but that flies in the face of its non-core policy.

A non-core license holder pointed out to me just this morning that he has to pay the FFAW-Unifor union dues despite the fact the union is against changing the non-core policy.

That's just insane.

All owner-operators with a clear connection to the fishery should be able to sell their licenses or transfer them as they wish.

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.

See other SEA-NL blog posts on the non-core issue:

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