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Will Indigenous groups get 25% of northern cod; will offshore draggers catch it for them?

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Those are the questions now that Fisheries and Oceans has made it official that when a total allowable catch (TAC) of northern cod is re-established, the first 115,000 tonnes of “directed Canadian access” will go to the NL inshore/indigenous groups.

For years, the FFAW/politicians said the 1st 115,000 tonnes would go to the inshore sector.

Period. End of sentence.

But the language out of the FFAW/Ottawa changed suddenly and smoothly months go.

During the provincial election in January, the FFAW released a series of recommendations regarding the future of the inshore fishery — including formal recognition that the first 115,000 tonnes of northern cod will be allocated to the inshore AND indigenous groups.

DFO's official policy change regarding the 115,000 tonnes was made in late May to the northern cod management plan — keeping in mind that the federal Fisheries minister can override the plan whenever it strikes her/him.

And keep in mind that 29 years after the ’92 moratorium the 2021 quota is still only at 13,000 tonnes.

And the 2021 summer price of cod is 73¢/lb.

But those are other stories/tragedies …


A DFO official says the allocations to indigenous groups have yet to be decided. Department officials also say “defined triggers” for the reopening of a full-fledged commercial fishery also aren’t decided.

That’s a lot to talk about.

There’s also the question of whether offshore draggers will be allowed to catch the Indigenous share?

In other words, will the offshore be allowed into the northern cod fishery sooner through the Indigenous back door?


In April, 2019 the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company Ltd., and the fishermen of Labrador (fishing zone 2J), proposed they be assigned 25% of the total harvest of northern cod — with all fish harvested by Labrador harvesters processed in Labrador.

At the time, the shrimp company argued Labrador harvesters were only getting 3% of the total northern cod harvest.

Then, just this week, Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones tweeted about almost $1.5 million in non-repayable federal grants for new fish processing equipment in Mary’s Harbour and Black Tickle plants, and to enhance cold-storage capacity in Mary’s Harbour, which will, in turn, provide storage for processing plants in Mary’s Harbour, Cartwright, Charlottetown, Pinsent’s Arm, and L’anse au Loup.

Looks like the Labrador shrimp company is gearing up for more fish.

Let the debate begin!

Or has the decision already been made?


Inshore fishermen off Newfoundland's south coast had been led to believe the first 10,000 tonnes of cod in the 3Ps stock would be reserved for them, the same way the first 115,000 tonnes of northern cod off Newfoundland’s east coast/Labrador are set aside for the inshore (and Indigenous groups).

But that wasn’t the case in 3Ps, and DFO allowed the draggers to fish away.

Even this year, when the 3Ps cod quota has been cut to 1,345 tonnes — half of the 2020 amount, and with the stock in the critical zone —  the offshore sector continues to pound away at its 12.2% share.

Two points: reconciliation cannot be on the backs of NL inshore harvesters, and the offshore sector's impact on delicate stocks such as cod must be addressed.

Ryan Cleary,


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