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Cod moratorium hit Black Tickle hard

Black Tickle
Black Tickle

BLACK TICKLE, LABRADOR — At one time Black Tickle was a bustling community, with fisherman coming from all over Newfoundland and Labrador in pursuit of cod. 

Empty nets

Bernard Dyson, 72, remembers that time. It’s a far cry from today, with the small community now barely hanging on.

“The fishery that was here was as good as one you could have anywhere,” he said in a recent interview. “I suppose there were hundreds of longliners and speedboats and little old shacks along the point where the plant was. But right now there’s nothing, you can’t even get a drop of gas.”

Dyson started fishing with his father when he was 13 years old. Even after he took a job with Newfoundland Hydro he continued to fish, taking eight to 10 weeks off every summer to go out on the water. To this day, he takes his speedboat out when the fishery opens every year.

“Everyone fished here,” said, adding no one had to go very far to catch it.  “. . . five or six minutes out of the harbour and you’d get the fish in a speedboat, little longer in a big boat.”

The closure of the cod fishery had a huge impact on Black Tickle, Dyson said, with the plant in town closing and a steady closure of businesses since.

Empty Nets: The Cod Moratorium 25 years later

“We have nothing here. If you want to go out fishing, you can row out or you can sit on the land looking out through the window. That’s all you can do. I want gas now I have to go to Cartwright to get it. It’s a heartbreaking situation here in Black Tickle.”

Dyson said at the height of the fishery there were so many cod caught in the area that the factory boats couldn’t take it all.

“I saw more fish thrown off the side of the boats than catch here now in a whole season,” he said.

There are only a few fishermen left in town, said Dyson, and no one has a groundfish license. Only a couple fishers have a crab quota. There was a crab plant there at one point but that only lasted about six years. 

Dyson said he has been keeping an eye on the cod though and he is pretty impressed with what he’s been seeing the last few years.

“Last summer and the summer before last the cod was as plenty as I’ve ever seen it. I’ve never seen it so plenty my whole life. I’ve seen a lot of cod fish, I’ve seen them scarce and I’ve seen them plentiful and I’ve never seen it like this now.”

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