No fish catch allowed for N.L. boat tour operators unfair, says owner
The owner of a boat tour company in Lewisporte who had hoped to allow tourists to keep their fish has had his idea rejected.
Graham Wood, operator of Mussel Bed Boat Tours, applied to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, asking that operators in Newfoundland and Labrador be permitted to allow visitors to keep their catch.
However, DFO rejected the proposed project — and Wood says it's unfair.
According to Wood, the other Atlantic provinces, as well as Quebec, have been permitted to allow their clients to keep a couple of fish while out on the tour boats.
Wood put together an application for a pilot project, including a survey from other boat tour operators in the Notre Dame Bay region, to try to get the same rule introduced in this province. He was hoping the project would be approved for this summer.
"This is a situation where we feel we have the right, like the other Atlantic provinces, to be able to provide our tourists with exposure to the Newfoundland cultural connectivity with the sea and fishery and yet we're stopped at every angle," he said.
According to Wood, boat operators in this province are allowed to let their tourists catch fish during the recreational fishery season, but that's only three weeks of the full tourist season.
The Newfoundland tourism industry is that, you know, our connectivity with the sea — and we are losing our connectivity with the sea.- Graham Wood
"Part of what Newfoundland is all about, and our tourism as we market it on our flights flying across North America, the Newfoundland tourism industry is that, you know, our connectivity with the sea — and we are losing our connectivity with the sea," he said.
"All you see in the supermarket these days is fish, SeaQuest fish that could be caught in Newfoundland, processed in China and shipped back to us."
No allocations made in allowable catch
DFO said the situation with the tour boats in other provinces is different.
It said the total allowable catch in the other jurisdictions take into account the catch from boat tour operators but there is no established total allowable catch for the Notre Dame Bay region — where the northern cod stocks are located.
"Cod stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador are separate stocks from those stocks in the rest of Atlantic Canada and the management approach differs from that implemented in other regions," DFO said in a statement.
DFO added that given the nature of the northern cod stocks in the Newfoundland region, it could not allow an increase to the total allowable catch for operators in that area.
- An earlier version of this report inaccurately identified Graham Wood as Graham Woods.May 21, 2015 12:21 PM NT