Recreational fishery switching to licence and tag system next year

Some major changes are in store, if you're one of the thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador who take advantage of the annual recreational cod fishery.

DFO will announce consultation process in coming weeks

This enormous cod was caught by Clinton Roberts near Long Island, in central Newfoundland. (Submitted by Shana Morey)

Get ready for some big changes if you're one of the thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador who take advantage of the annual recreational cod fishery.

Starting next year, you'll have to buy a licence before you leave the wharf. Then you'll have to tag every fish you catch. 

Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are still working on the details, although the basic information was revealed in May when the department announced this year's recreational fishery would expand from 32 to 46 days.

DFO explains the extra 14 days were introduced as a transitional measure "in advance of implementation of a license and tags regime" expected  next year. 

Right now anglers don't have to buy a licence or tag fish. But daily bag limits are strictly enforced, with stiff penalties for offenders.

Public to be consulted

"We're not looking at it as making it difficult for people," said DFO resource manager Patricia Williams. "We're going to a public consultation process over the coming number of months to hear what people have to say." 

Logan Doyle caught this cod - with no licence and no tags - during his first try at the recreational fishery earlier this summer. (Submitted by Wanda Doyle)

The department said these measures will help DFO Science understand "the amount of removals and fishing effort" from the recreational fishery.

Williams told the St. John's Morning Show that there's a requirement in DFO's regulatory regime that calls for a $10 fee for each licence, although the exact amount has yet to be determined.

Since, theoretically, every citizen could take and tag 230 fish, there's also potential for a lot of administrative jigging around. 

"There's all kinds of views out there," Williams said.

"So we're going to the consultation process to hear those voices and hear what people have to say and help us shape how we're going to introduce that licence and tags regime." 

Williams said the consultation process would likely be a combination of community meetings and online submissions where people would be encouraged to voice concerns and share opinions. 

The new rules will only apply to Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec's Lower North Shore.

She said the long-term plan is to make the rules consistent across the Atlantic region. 

Williams said details on the consultation process should be released in the next few weeks. 


Gerry Amey


Gerry Amey works with the St. John's Morning Show.