This past November I visited Codroy Seafoods Inc. who were processing hook and line codfish caught by day boat fishers in area 3PN-4R.
Inshore fishers were using traditional baited trawls with mackerel and herring. The majority of the fishers were also employing proper handling techniques, which included a bleeding step, gutting and slush icing.
The latter short-term storage quickly chilled the fish, provided additional washing and reduced pressure because of the buoyancy offered by slush (ice-sea water mixture). The fish quality was undeniably Grade A and offered the processor firm, white flesh without bruising, blood spots or soft texture which is often the case with other summer fishing gear.
I had been to Iceland with a Newfoundland processor delegation in October and can attest that the fish quality produced by hook and line in the fall was as good as any we had seen from hook and line fishing in Iceland.
With more groundfish resources and the potential for cod quota increase in the future, we can learn a lot from the fishery along Newfoundland’s south west coast.
At one time, it was year-round fishery continuing through the fall and winter months. Should our province re-enter and regain cod markets in North America, which are now supplied by Iceland and Norway, we have to ensure that we produce the best quality products possible.
While learning from our competitors, who have continually developed technologies throughout our 23 plus year northern cod moratorium, we can also include practical proven harvesting and processing methodologies.
I was equally impressed with the attention to quality at the processing facility. The plant was employing some 75 people hand filleting, skinning and trimming fresh fillets. This premium quality Newfoundland codfish was being shipped by refrigerated truck for delivery to Toronto, Boston and New York.
Today’s fish markets have become accustomed to daily, fresh, air deliveries from Iceland. Using established ground transportation, we can logistically compete with deliveries at lower transport costs.
The groundfish industry will rebuild and reinvent itself with sound planning and fisheries management. Similar creativity and dedication that was applied to our shellfish industry (crab and shrimp) will be required to ensure maximum return for fishers and processors. Collectively, the industry and regulators need to work together to ensure we do not repeat past mistakes and give our best efforts going forward.