I would like to provide some comments about two well-written and thought-provoking articles that appeared in the August issue of The Navigator Magazine.
The articles were entitled Prominent Cod Scientist Labels Stock Recovery as “Remarkable” and Cod — Building the Future. The first article featured Dr. George Rose and was a question and answer between the cod scientist and Navigator Managing Editor Kerry Hann. The second was a column written by Bob Verge, the Managing Director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI).
I have been giving some thought as to how an enlightened people (ourselves) should respond to a new commercial cod fishery in the future.
I fully agree with Mr. Verge when he writes “Maybe we will rebuild what we had in the past, but if we do, I think it will be a big mistake.” I fully agree. In my opinion, a major mistake of the past was the fact we operated a commercial fishery (inshore and offshore) in the summer months.
I would suggest that we only allow a commercial fishery in the months of the fall, winter and mid-spring months. In my opinion, we should not be allowed to operate and sell codfish commercially in the summer months. I have been involved with the Newfoundland fishery since 1971. I have seen a lot of problems caused by our summer cod fishery.
The main reason I suggest that we do not allow a commercial fishery in the future during the summer months is because of the summer heat. To conduct a commercial fishery in the future, you need to operate with top quality raw material. You cannot get this during the summer (warm water, warm weather) months.
I know that July 2015 was a record cold month. However, that being said, we have had a few summer (warm) days and evenings.
To return to the operation of a viable and sustainable cod fishery in the future, you have to start with and maintain a top quality raw material. You cannot get this on a sustained basis during the summer months.
The present private, recreational cod fishery that we now have is only hobby fishing. It is not commercial (selling for profit).
Much of the frozen cod fishery in the 1950s to its close in 1992 was the production of frozen cod blocks. This product had a unique market in the fast food industry, mainly in the United States. The major cod block market has all disappeared.
However, with the start of the Alaskan cod and pollack industry by factory freezer vessels, the Newfoundland cod fishery came under great and sustained market pressure. As well, with the introduction of farm-raised white flesh species, the Newfoundland cod fishery was again subjected to even more market pressure.
We should never forget the fact that we stopped the commercial production of Newfoundland codfish in 1992. This is a very, very long time to be gone from a market and then try and reappear.
What Newfoundland has to do now, in my opinion, is to rebuild a market for its codfish. This can only come when we start with a high quality raw material that is world class and top notch.
Warm weather, warm water and codfish glutted with bait is not the place to start i.e. the summer months.
The fall, winter and early spring period will give firm cod flesh that can be produced into quality and sustained products.
The Icelandic fishing model is the one that should be followed in Newfoundland and Labrador. In general terms, all the Scandinavian countries have operated their cod fishery, in my opinion, as a more sustained industry.
We have a long road to follow in building and maintaining our share of the world cod market. The future is in our hands to build a new commercial cod fishing industry.
R. David Moores
Bay Roberts, N.L.