Status Quo for 2017 N.L. Recreational Groundfish Fishery

Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon, announced today that there will be no changes to the regulations governing the recreational groundfish (cod) fishing season for Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec’s Lower North Shore.

In 2016, the fishing season was extended by 14 days to allow a total of 46 fishing days. These measures will remain in place for the 2017 season.

McDonald also announced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) decision not to implement a licence and tags regime for this fishery in 2017. DFO, Newfoundland and Labrador Region consulted widely on this matter, holding community meetings in November 2016 and heard strong opposition to the potential introduction of a tags system for the annual recreational groundfish fishery. The department listened to the public’s views, and has taken all feedback into account in making this year’s management decision.

Recreational fisheries constitute a strong economic development sector for Canada. DFO will therefore continue to assess options to strengthen the management of all marine recreational fisheries across Eastern Canada, with the goal of improving economic return and the reliability of catch estimates, and making science assessments of the stocks more robust.

As part of this process, DFO will engage with Canadians in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec in the coming months on the possibility of introducing a marine recreational fishing licence regime, without the use of tags, for 2018.

The fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec’s Lower North Shore will open from July 15 to August 6, September 23 to October 1, as well as all weekends throughout July and August, including the Canada Day and Labour Day long weekends. This provides a total of 46 days of fishing.

All previous management measures remain in place. Harvesters must keep what they catch and are not authorized to discard groundfish, with the exception of Atlantic halibut and species at risk (i.e. northern and spotted wolfish). These species must be released in a manner that maximizes the survivability of the fish.

For 2017, tour boat operators will be eligible to apply for a licence to seek an increased trip limit. This licence will have harvest reporting requirements to inform DFO Science of the amount of removals.

In November 2016, DFO held a series of regional consultations, eight public meetings (St. John’s, Clarenville, Gander, Corner Brook, Mary’s Harbour, Plum Point, Carbonear and Marystown), a consultation with Indigenous communities, as well as an online consultation process from November 1-30, seeking public input on the proposed tags regime for the recreational groundfish fishery.

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