Nfld. & Labrador

Decision on extended N.L. food fishery should be 'based on science not politics,' says George Rose

The federal government is considering expanding Newfoundland and Labrador's recreational groundfish fishery, but a well-known fisheries scientist says that may not be a good idea.
Fisheries scientist George Rose says cod stocks have been rebounding over the past six or seven years, but it's not clear if that will continue. (CBC)

The federal government is considering expanding Newfoundland and Labrador's recreational groundfish fishery, but a well-known fisheries scientist says that may not be a good idea. 

George Rose told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show that it may make sense politically, but says the decision should be based on science. 

Any expansion of it comes with a risk.- George Rose

For the last three years, the recreational fishery has taken place for three weeks in the summer, and eight days in the fall. 

Rose said it's unclear how the current food fishery is affecting northern cod stocks, as there's no hard data.     

"We don't have any way to evaluate the impact of the rec fishery right now," he said.

"DFO is responsible for tallying the state of the stocks and making recommendations on what to do with them. So that puts science, and then management in a very difficult situation, because there's no way to evaluate what the effect is."

Rose said cod stocks have been rebounding over the past six or seven years, however it's unclear if that will continue.

"It doesn't appear to have impacted the growth track of the stock to date. We're just not sure how that track is going to continue," said Rose.

"We're still well below where it was historically, [but] everything is very promising," said Rose, who recently retired from Memorial University. 

"Now whether that translates to increasing the fishery is another question entirely. Any expansion of it comes with a risk."

Newfoundland solution

Rose said a one-size-fits-all view of an extended recreational fishery for Newfoundland and Labrador is not "a good management approach."

"It's not really a good argument to say it should be like Nova Scotia or wherever. Really, it has to take into account the local conditions, the state of the local fishery, how much effort is likely to result from having open seasons like that," said Rose.

"Those are the kinds of questions that management face, and it really has to to be done at a local level. You need a Newfoundland solution to this — not something borrowed from the Maritimes."

George Rose says it's unclear how the current food fishery is affecting northern cod stocks, as hard data is not available. (CBC)

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