New Brunswick preparing for reopening of redfish fishery

Two whole redfish, or ocean perch, resting on a bed of ice.

The head of New Brunswick fisheries hailed the return of redfish, or ocean perch, to the region, predicting the return of commercial fishing in the near future.

“The arrival of a new cohort of redfish in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence suggests a reopening soon of that fishery, which has been under a moratorium since 1995,” New Brunswick Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson said at the Responsible Seafood Summit in Saint John, New Brunswick on 3 October.

The Canadian government closed the Gulf of Saint Lawrence redfish fishery in 1995 due to overfishing, which led to a collapse of the species. The stock has rebounded since then, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the government is moving toward reopening the Unit 1 Redfish commercial fishery.

The return of redfish “represents a real opportunity to increase long-term sustainable economic activity in the province’s coastal and indigenous communities,” Johnson said.

In June, DFO announced that it was doubling the 2023 experimental redfish fishery from 2,500 metric tons to 5,000 metric tons. Launched in 2018, the experimental fishery provides data on redfish stocks to regulators and allows harvesters to test more sustainable fishing gear. The government has approved 24 participants in the experimental fishery, including five indigenous groups.

DFO also runs a separate index fishery program with a 2,000-metric-ton quota.

"The rebound of redfish stocks is a true success story, and shows how conservation efforts are critical to maintaining fisheries,” then-Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray said at the time. “I'm looking forward to working with stakeholders in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to promote a prosperous and sustainable commercial fishery."

The imminent return of the fishery has led to a battle among commercial fishermen over who should have access.

Photo courtesy of hlphoto/Shutterstock


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