Gord Casey, an avid outdoorsman from Corner Brook, says the federal government should extend the fall food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.
High Winds and/or heavy rain have made it nearly impossible to spend much time on the water jigging cod since the season opened Saturday. The wind is expected to dissipate today, but Casey says it will take a day or two before the sea settles enough for fisherman to safely be on the open water.
That leaves limited opportunity during this year’s fall recreational groundfish fishery.
“I think Ottawa should — without being begged, phoned, emailed and tormented — come out right up front and extend this food fishery for another week or two,” he said.
With just nine days to fish — and a limit of five cod per person and 15 a boat — missing any time on the water is a shame, according to the retired school teacher. Casey shuns the term recreational fishery. He said it is a true food fishery — an opportunity for Newfoundland and Labradorians to fill their freezers for what is a staple in their diets.
With weather improving, Casey believes people will feel the urge or the pressure to go asea in less than ideal conditions. With heavy seas still an issue, and frigid waters, he is concerned about the number of people who may die trying to get as many fish as they can before Sunday.
With an extended fall season, people will be more likely to pick the most suitable days to get out on the water, he said.
Beyond the safety issue, Casey said it should be the right of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to fish. Weather should not take that away from them nor the federal government.
He said cod are plentiful in coastal waters across the province, so conservation is not an issue.
“If it was about conservation, I would be the first one behind DFO saying you have to err on the side of conservation,” he said. “... It is about the control from Ottawa. They are afraid to relinquish a little bit, just in case we feel like we have a little control over our destiny.”
Cod in the waters off this province are better to eat this time of year too, agrees Casey. They have less caplin or other small fish in their guts, he explains, and firmer and thicker. September fish are a better fish, he said.