It’s fresh from the sea time again

Dave White
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CORE fishers, permitted to share in the limited annual commercial groundfish harvest because of historical attachment and dependence on ocean resources for their livelihood, have stirred quite a bit of interest in the landwash of late. And, there’s more of it to come, fresh fish.

Daily for about a week now, local people and interested passersby come to watch fishers at the Blanchard’s Cove stagehead in McIvers gut and clean their daily catches and to avail of the earliest opportunity to get some fresh-from-the-sea cod fillets. Others, too, have been out looking to buy halibut steak where they can find it, dockside in the outer Bay of Islands ... or ... where.

At four and five dollars a pound fresh, respectively, the price seems right for most stopping by dockside. Comparatively, it is a decidedly better deal than middle-men handled catches offered up in supermarkets and some area restaurants at higher prices days later. Maybe even better, as some participants in the past have claimed, than the ‘free’ fish that can be caught during the three weeks of open season in the province’s recreational food fishery.

The tightly-controlled commercial harvest of groundfish can end on shortest notice once total allowable catches have been reached. Fishers quickly able to meet the increased federal quota on halibut this year also report greater measures of success with cod some days more than others this summer.

Yet, the excitement over fish continues. Starting this Saturday and carrying on until Aug. 10, the recreational groundfish fishery will once more draw untold numbers of unlicenced Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who like fish and fishing to the sea to catch their own food.

Federal regulations make the recreational fishery open to both residents and non-residents. There is no requirement for licences or tags.

Retention of Atlantic halibut and spotted and Northern wolffish is prohibited. Sculpins and cunners may be released. All other groundfish caught must be retained. High-grading, the throwing back smaller fish to the sea in order to keep larger ones, is not permitted.

All fish caught must be retained in an identifiable state. Fish may be bled, gutted, and split while at sea, but further processing such as filleting and skinning at sea is not permitted.

Only angling gear and handlines with a maximum of three hooks are permitted. Handlines include artificial lures, baited hooks and feathered hooks. Artificial lures with treble hooks weighing less than five ounces or 142 grams are acceptable. Traditional jiggers are not permitted unless they are modified and have only one single hook.

Personal daily limits of five fish and individual boat limits of 15 fish a day remain in effect. Commercial hrvesters are not permitted to take part in the fishery and the sale of fish taken during the recreational fishery by anyone is not allowed.

There are provisions in the recreational fishery that allow a disabled person to designate a person to catch their daily limit of groundfish. Information is available at Department of Fisheries and Oceans licencing centres.

Dave White welcomes your Bay of Islands news and events information at  688-2003, or email at:

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Bay of Islands

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