Rebuilding the Cod Fishery in Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence
July 4, 2022 – Ottawa, ON
Cod is culturally, economically, and historically important for coastal communities throughout Eastern Canada, including in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Quebeckers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been fishing Northern Gulf cod for centuries, and the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring this important tradition can be passed on to future generations.
Northern Gulf cod stocks are deep in the critical zone. This means the stock is at risk of serious harm, which could even further impact the livelihoods of coastal communities, now and into the future. To help rebuild this stock the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, announced today there will be no directed commercial fishing of Northern Gulf cod this year in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO division 3Pn4RS). This one-year management plan will allow young fish in the stock to reach maturity, providing an opportunity for the Northern Gulf cod stock to rebuild.
Recognizing the cultural significance of cod to Quebeckers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the recreational (sport or food) fishery will continue within the regulated season and with daily possession limits. The science-based “sentinel” fishery, which provides important updates about stock health, and the food, social and ceremonial fisheries will also proceed this year.
This is a one-year management plan. This decision will be re-evaluated before the 2023 season, taking into consideration economic factors, stakeholder perspectives, and the best available science, including results from the next science assessment.
“This is a tough decision; I recognize this commercial closure will pose economic challenges for many harvesters and comes at a hard time for people in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. This decision will give the Northern Gulf cod stock a year to build, while also allowing Indigenous and recreational harvesters to participate in this culturally important fishery. Our government will continue working with partners and stakeholders to help regenerate this fish stock, so that it can once again support a viable commercial fishery. I look forward to revisiting the decision next year.”
The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
A sentinel fishery is when fish harvesters collect data on a stock while fishing. The data is collected according to scientific protocols developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Department considers the data when assessing the health of the stock.
In 2021, the total allowable catch (TAC) for the Northern Gulf cod commercial fishery was 1000 tonnes. Approximately 510 tonnes of this TAC was available for the directed commercial fishery.
Atlantic cod (NAFO division 3Pn4RS) is one of 30 major fish stocks subject to the new Fish Stock provisions that came into force through regulations on April 4, 2022. These provisions legally require Fisheries and Oceans Canada to develop a plan to help rebuild this stock out of the critical zone.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
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