Food fishery open for 39 days in 2018, down from 46 in 2017

Food fishery open for 39 days in 2018, down from 46 in 2017

From Saturday to Monday all summer, people in Newfoundland and Labrador can fish to their heart's content — for up to five fish per day.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Tuesday announced that the recreational groundfish fishery will be open for 39 days in 2018: every weekend, Saturday through Monday, from June 30 through to Sept. 3. The fall season will be nine days, from Sept. 22 to Sept. 30.

That's down from 46 days in 2017, a year that saw lower catch rates and lingering sea ice contributing to a drop in participation.

Barry Fordham, the president of the Newfoundland Association of Hunters and Anglers, said he's pleased with this year's dates. 

"It creates more opportunity for everybody, and it also endorses the two objectives that I had been lobbying for the past four or five years with DFO, which is to make our food fishery safer and fairer."

He said that while the total number of days is down by seven from last year, the decision to open the food fishery every weekend beginning June 30 will give more people the opportunity to get out on the water.

It also won't spur them to make risky decisions and try to get out on the water on days when conditions are dangerous, he said.

But Fordham doesn't understand why it took so long for the DFO to release this year's guidelines. 

He said outdoor businesses and tourists looking to come for the season shouldn't have been forced to wait this long.

"When you look at it there's no reason why it couldn't be made quicker," he said.

Fishers are limited to five groundfish per day, including cod, with a maximum boat limit of 15. Tour boat operators, though, are eligible to apply for an increased trip limit.

As usual, the fishery limits angling gear and handlines to three hooks. Traditional jiggers aren't allowed, unless they have only a single hook. Fish may be bled and gutted while at sea, but skinning and sectioning at sea is not allowed.

Fishing is permitted from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador