FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 7th, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is reiterating its call for the provincial government to lift all restrictions and allow out-of-province buyers into the provincial market place for all species.
“The commercial fishery for northern cod reopened on Newfoundland’s northeast coast on Aug. 1st, but very few harvesters are at it because there are no buyers,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.
There were reports on Sunday of cod being purchased over the wharf in Change Islands, fish that is to be salted, but no one's buying fresh fish. The few plants operating are still busy handling caplin, with no workers to process cod.
“Some fishermen are salting their cod with no idea of what they'll eventually get for it — just like in my grandfather's day,” says Richard Gillett. Vice-President of FISH-NL. “How far we’ve come.”
FISH-NL presented a proposal on outside buyers to the provincial government in December, 2016 following an intensive, province-wide consultation with thousands of fish harvesters, whose support for out-of-province buyers appeared unanimous.
An open and free market in the fishing industry would, at best, result in increased competition and more money in the pockets of inshore harvesters. At worst, it would keep local buyers honest.
FISH-NL has formally requested a meeting with new provincial Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne.
Inshore harvesters fishing northern cod were given two options for 2017: Fish the entire season at the weekly catch limit; or fish only from Sept. 17th-Nov. 30th at double the weekly limit.
Carbonear fisherman Wayne Slade, who chose to fish the entire season for cod, says last week he caught 1,654 pounds, but forced to fillet the fish and freeze it.
“With no buyers I could be losing my quota of 2,000 pounds a week,” said Slade. “It’s time for us to get out of the stone age and open the market to outside buyers.”