DFO extends cod fishing season 'indefinitely' on south coast

In a surprising move to many in the province's fishing industry, Fisheries and Oceans has extended the cod fishing season indefinitely for one area.
DFO has extended the cod fishery on Newfoundland's south coast until at least the end of March. (CBC)

In a surprising move to many in the province's fishing industry, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has extended the cod fishing season indefinitely for one area.

The fishery was scheduled to close on March 1, but DFO extended the date in the fishing zone known as 3PS, which covers much of the south coast of Newfoundland to at least the end of March.

The extension means south coast cod will be fished during the spawning season.

Dave Coffin, the resource manager for groundfish with DFO, said the department was responding to a request from the industry itself.

"They wanted to look at the quality of fish during that late winter, early spring period. There's also interest in additional economic opportunity — some fishermen want to keep fishing," he said.

The extension was requested in part by the Fish, Food and Allied Workers — the union that represents the province's fishermen and plantworkers.

According to Coffin, cod fishermen had a disastrous 2013 with around 70 per cent of the quota left in the water.

Coffin said DFO will be working with its science department to do a review of spawning closures and their effectiveness, but he doesn't believe allowing fishing to continue into the spawning season is a risk.

"We review what we do on an annual basis, and if there are things we need to adjust or review then we'll do that. This is just part of that puzzle," Coffin said.

Coffin said inshore fishermen likely won't benefit much from the extension. Their boats won't be able to handle the rougher waters at this time of year, and most of them are gearing up for the start of the crab fishery.

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