Nfld. & Labrador

20-year shellfish harvester says he can't wait long for return of cod

Lumsden fisherman Basil Goodyear predicts there will not be many people left in the fishing industry unless quotas improve.

DFO report shows 7 per cent growth in northern cod stock between 2015 and 2016

Fisherman Basil Goodyear says fish harvesters need somewhere to turn with the declines in shrimp and crab biomass.

The return of an expanded commercial cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador can't come soon enough for Basil Goodyear, a fisherman in Lumsden who's been relying on shellfish for about 20 years.

Goodyear first started fishing crab and shrimp with three of his brothers in 1997. But as the stocks of shrimp and crab continue to fall, Goodyear is looking for somewhere to turn.

He told CBC Radio's The Broadcast on Monday that he might be able to tough it out if a full commercial cod fishery returns in five years' time, but he says 10 years is too long to wait.

Something is going to have to come along.- Basil Goodyear

"Not with the levels that we're fishing today," he said. "We'd have to be at least gradually going upward with quotas. We'd have to be fishing more product than we're fishing now."

Monday's news that northern cod has continued its slow rebuild prompted calls from the FFAW to allow more cod fishing off Newfoundland and Labrador.

Goodyear predicts there will not be many people left in the fishing industry in a decade unless there are quota increases in some species. He is not sure how much longer his crew can last with crab and shrimp alone.

"I'm not sure if it's cod or there's something else that will come along that we don't know about, but with the shrimp disappearing, with the fleet of boats that we have today, something is going to have to come along."

Goodyear said he would be happy with an expanded cod fishery in five years' time, provided he could continue to catch turbot, crab and shrimp to get by in the interim.

Preparing for cod

If the cod fishery does expand, Goodyear says the province's harvesters should pursue the industry in a new way — catching smaller quotas by landing higher-value fish.

He said the province should look to Iceland for guidance.

"They've built a good industry. They get some good prices for their fish. I think that's the way we've got to hit if we're going to have a viable fishery."

Goodyear says the province should focus on producing higher quality products. (CBC St. John's)

Goodyear says his crew has already invested in a hook and line system, but more is needed to outfit his boat for a commercial cod fishery.

He estimated it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's a lot of money, but in this industry today $200,000 [doesn't] get you a lot."

With files from The Broadcast