Skip to content

Workshops Bring Quality to the Forefront of the New Cod Fishery

April 24, 2018

Beginning in February and running through the month of March, Cod Quality Handling Workshops are taking place throughout the province. The workshops are delivered through the Fisheries Science Stewardship and Sustainability Board (FSSSB), which was founded to promote issues to benefit harvesters and solve problems related to fisheries.

Over the past three years, the FSSSB has carried out significant activities focused on monitoring cod grading returns and enhancing cod quality handling practices. As a result of this work and the dedication of harvesters, there has been significant improvement in cod grades.

The focus of this new series of workshops is on the new cod fishery and top quality, fresh product. In order to achieve that, both harvesters and processors are rethinking how fish is handled. While there is always debate about methods and gear types, one thing is clear: it will take a lot of hard work and investment from everyone in the industry, including fish harvesters, processors and government, to make the new groundfish fishery work.

The FSSSB developed these cod quality handling sessions in order to share best practices with all fish harvesters in the province. Equally important in these sessions is that participants share their own feedback on what handling practices work in their particular circumstances.

The initial series of workshops saw an incredible turnout of 426 harvesters at 35 meetings. The feedback received from participants is that the information presented has been valuable and relevant for all harvesters who fish cod.

Harvester Jamie Goodyear sums it up, “We cannot go back to the old ways of landing very high volumes of fish with little return for our hard work. This will not sustain the fishers that are involved now and it definitely will not attract young people.”

Cod landings in the province have increased significantly over the last few years. Over the last three seasons, companies have reported that the amount of Grade A product has gone from approximately 65% to 85%. Harvesters have shown that although there might still be some challenges, landing quality product is certainly possible in Newfoundland and Labrador.

When asked what other harvesters should consider, Goodyear continued, “We have to make this new groundfish fishery work. We have to make it work for our enterprises and make it work for our communities. Quality is the first priority if we want to compete in the markets and receive maximum value for our product. If we don’t do it right, someone else will. If we don’t take the initiative, the offshore, which is mostly owned and controlled by foreign investments, will take control of this fishery and our communities will get very little in return.”