The resurgence of redfish, also known as ocean perch, in the New Brunswick fisheries has sparked optimism for the revival of commercial fishing in the region, as declared by the head of New Brunswick's fisheries sector.
Speaking at the Responsible Seafood Summit in Saint John, New Brunswick, on October 3rd, Margaret Johnson, the Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries, expressed her anticipation of a potential reopening of the redfish fishery in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This fishery had been under a moratorium since 1995 due to overfishing, leading to a dramatic decline in redfish populations.
The Canadian government took the drastic step of closing the Gulf of Saint Lawrence redfish fishery in 1995 to mitigate the overexploitation of this species. However, there has been a promising resurgence in the redfish population, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). As a result, the government is now moving toward reopening the Unit 1 Redfish commercial fishery.
Minister Johnson emphasized the significance of the redfish's return, stating that it presents a genuine opportunity to stimulate long-term sustainable economic activity within New Brunswick's coastal and indigenous communities.
In June, DFO announced a significant expansion of the experimental redfish fishery for 2023, increasing the quota from 2,500 metric tons to 5,000 metric tons. Initiated in 2018, this experimental fishery serves the dual purpose of providing critical data on redfish stocks to regulators and enabling harvesters to test more sustainable fishing techniques. The government has granted approval to 24 participants in the experimental fishery, including five indigenous groups.
Additionally, DFO administers a distinct index fishery program with a 2,000-metric-ton quota to further manage redfish stocks and their sustainability.
Former Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, Joyce Murray, celebrated the recovery of redfish stocks as a resounding success story. She underscored the importance of conservation efforts in preserving fisheries and expressed her commitment to collaborating with stakeholders in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to promote a prosperous and sustainable commercial fishery.
However, the imminent return of the fishery has ignited a dispute among commercial fishermen regarding access rights, highlighting the challenges associated with managing and regulating the revival of this valuable marine resource.
Source: : Nathan Strout (October 3, 2023). New Brunswick preparing for reopening of redfish fishery. Seafood Source. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/new-brunswick-preparing-for-reopening-of-redfish-fishery