1996 Food Fishery
Before 1992, there used to be a commercial fishery for cod in Newfoundland. It was very important to both fishermen and plant workers, and employed tens of thousands of people.
In 1992, the fishing industry took a drastic change for the worse. The Minister of Fisheries at the time, John Crosbie, declared the Cod Moratorium which meant 'no fishing' because of the low numbers of fish. This program is still going.
With the moratorium it meant no food fishery, where people fish for personal use and not for commercial sale. This caused an uproar because Newfoundlanders felt that it was their right to fish for food. After much political pressure, such as media campaigning and protests, the first food fishery was introduced in 1994 by the minister at the time. Although this fishery was announced for a trial period of six weekends, the fishery ended after the fourth weekend because of the small size of fish and because the fish were scarce. Despite similar campaigning there was no food fishery in 1995 in order to allow stocks to rebuild.
After much research by both scientists and fishermen, there appeared to be an improvement. In 1996, Minister Fred Mifflin announced a food fishery from September 20-22 for one weekend and said that a second weekend from September 27-29 may be possible depending on the outcome of the first weekend. Because of the positive outcome, he announced the fishery would go ahead for a second weekend.
This fishery was closely monitored and controlled. The fishermen were permitted to use only hook and line and not the traditional cod jigger. They were only allowed ten fish per day and fifty fish per boat. This worked out very well with very few violations.
Research is still taking place and will continue throughout the winter months. The findings of this research will help assist the fisheries minister, Fred Mifflin, to decide whether or not there will be another food fishery held in 1997.