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Wake-up call to FFAW: capelin season has begun

An Avalon Peninsula fisherman was fit to be tied Wednesday when he was forced back to sea to take a second capelin sample after the FFAW failed to have a technician on the wharf when the first sample was landed. The screw-up resulted in the discarding of an estimated 100,000/lbs of capelin.

“Someone should wake up the crowd at the union office for dropping the ball on this one,” said the owner-operator, who asked not to be named.

Capelin off eastern Newfoundland must be sampled for size/sex before a commercial fishery is open.

The protocol involves obtaining a permit from DFO, and then seining tens of thousands of pounds of capelin with fixed gear to get a good sample. Much of the capelin is destroyed when the seine is pulled tight.

Once the fisherman obtained a sample he contacted the FFAW to let the union know he was on his way in to Barry’s plant in Witless Bay, and to have a technician on site to monitoring the testing of the sample.

Only the technician didn’t show up due to an FFAW screw up, and the union told the fisherman the capelin must be resampled — even though the Barry’s inspector signed off on it.

The fisherman estimated the gathering of a second sample would result in the total discarding of 100,000/lbs of capelin

“If the union can’t keep up with the fishermen then it has to get the hell out of the way.”

Bill Broderick, who retired as the FFAW’s inshore director in 2020, is again working for the union, and ordered the second sample.

In other Atlantic provinces once a capelin fishery is opened the fish doesn’t have to be sampled. Same goes with capelin caught off western Newfoundland.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit

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