Fishy legislation: Small boat fisherman want to sell their own cod
By Aaron Beswick
FOR THE SOU’WESTER
A decades-old regulation forbids Dean Patey from salting his own fish to sell and the St. Anthony Bight, N.L. fisherman doesn’t understand why it would be illegal for him to fillet and sell his own cod.
The fisherman and his brother, Dave Patey, operate the 35-foot Patey’s Venture. Along with their crab quotas they have two 2,700 lb. groundfish licenees to catch. “They offered us 50 cents lb. at the plant – that barely pays for your fuel, you can’t fish for that,” said Patey.
While he and his brother could have caught the two quotas in just over a week, instead they took orders locally and sold it as fillets or rounds – $2.50 for fillets, $1.00 for rounds. It was a bit of extra work, but it made their fishing worthwhile. “We caught the fish as we had orders to fill and it works good – pays our bills for a month,” said Patey. “We’ve been selling locally ever since I was a kid, father and grandfather did it too or gave it away. We’re just trying to catch our bit of fish we got to catch and make a living.”
But there’s a rumour going around amongst inshore fishermen, many of whom sell their cod the same way, that the practice is going to be cracked down on. Liberal fisheries critic Marshall Dean raised the issue in the House of Assembly this fall and the new fisheries minister, Clyde Jackman, says he will seek to find a solution to the legislative problem. “The regulation was introduced in 1969 under the Fish Inspection Administrative Regulations,” explained Jackman. “To my knowledge, as far as I’ve been able to find out, nobody has ever been charged. Having said that we know people are doing it and under the present set of regulations it is illegal so I have directed staff to start the process of reviewing the legislation.”
He wants that review and recommended changes to the legislation in his hands before the next fishing season. “Nonetheless we still need to be concerned with health and safety – I know people have a great deal of experience with selling their own fish but food safety is still something that will have to kept in consideration.”