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MEDIA RELEASE: Commercial Cod Harvesters Opposed to Drastic Increases in Rec Fishery

February 9, 2024

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Commercial fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling for stricter monitoring of the recreational cod fishery in the province and assert that unaccounted for removals in the recreational fishery could threaten the conservation integrity of the stock. 

“To be very clear, our Union is not in the business of stopping folks from putting food in their freezers – especially in today’s economy. What we have a problem with is the severe lack in monitoring and reporting of recreational removals,” explains Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. 

The petition to the federal government supported by Conservative MP Clifford Small is to more than double the number of days in the recreational fishery from 39 to roughly 90. Recreational removals are a significant source of uncertainty in DFO science and management and is blatantly contradictory to the Department’s mandate to monitor fish landings. 

In November 2023, the Federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development slammed DFO for failing to collect timely and dependable data on how much fish is being caught. Seven years prior, another audit called for changes to ensure sustainable management of the industry. In response, the Department created the Fishery Monitoring Policy which – accounting to the November 2023 – has not yet been implemented. It is well past time to do the work to document how much fish is being caught and landed by the so-called recreational fishery. 

“Unless DFO has plans to exponentially increase their on-the-ground enforcement of the recreational cod fishery within the next couple months, they simply do not have the human resources to adequately keep up with monitoring needs,” says Pretty. “the Department needs to commit to more stringent monitoring and enforcement of removals,” he says. 

“The northern cod stock is certainly on the path to recovery – but that doesn’t mean we can give up taking care to protect it into the future. Any plans to increase the recreational fishery cannot be reckless to the detriment of the health of the stock and for the commercial harvesters who rely on it for their livelihoods,” Pretty concludes. 


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