A weekend fatality at the start of the recreational groundfish fishery proves that there is not enough time for people to take part safely, a local mayor says.
"I think it's outrageous and it's discrimination. I mean how can you do it to one province and not the others?" said Gary Gosine, mayor of Wabana on Bell Island.
Gosine fears that there may be more tragedies this summer because people feel the need to rush to the water before the summer food fishery expires in the next three weeks.
People on Bell Island are reeling following a boating accident that claimed the life of Gordon Reid, Sr., 72, who died after he and two others were thrown into the ocean when their small boat capsized.
Witnesses said none of the men was wearing a life-jacket, and that the wind had picked up suddenly before the boat flipped.
Reid grew up on Bell Island before moving to Cambridge, Ont., and had recently returned to the island to visit family for a month.
Gosine said it is not fair that Canadians in other provinces can take to the water to catch a meal of fish, while the food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is much more limited. The recreational fishery opened Saturday and will close close Aug. 10. It will reopen again for a short period in September.
Gosine said Reid's death has cast a pall over the community.
"This is pretty hard when your own [or] someone from your own is hit, and this community is very small, very unique and very close," Gosine said in an interview.
"Once again the demeanor going around here on Bell Island over the last couple of days has been two words, I guess — very sad. But I can tell you my heart and my condolences go out to the Reid family, which is a very big family. They'll get through it but it is going to be very hard."
The rules for the recreational fishery allow participants to catch up to five groundfish per day, or a maximum of 15 per boat.