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Commercial fishers seeing promise after a rough start to fishing season

NORTHERN PENINSULA, NL - Despite some mixed reviews, fishing area 4R is providing decent catch for most Northern Peninsula fishermen.    

Griquet fisherman Carl Hedderson just completed his third week at the commercial cod fishery and says the catch seems to be getting better with each trip.

“For the small amount of gear it’s good catches,” Hedderson told The Northern Pen. “The second haul of the day is just as good or even better than the first haul.”

Griquet fisherman Carl Hedderson says the cod stock has been strong thus far in the 4R region. It’s a relieving sign in a particularly tough season for harvesters.

According to Hedderson, most fishermen he has encountered along 4R have been meeting their weekly quotas within just two days of casting their nets.

That’s a relief for many fishermen.

This year particularly saw an increase in grievances for harvesters. An extended winter kept ice in harbours well into the middle of June. The rough July weather also interfered with almost every aspect of the spring and summer fishery.

“We had a late season with the crab, the turbot catch was a failure, there’s not one sign of capelin yet,” said Hedderson, listing this year’s difficulties. “We’ve had success with this little bit of cod fish but it’s hard to a run 45-ft. boat on just that.”

From the anecdotes he’s heard from fishermen along the peninsula and Labrador Straits, FFAW representative Jason Spingle says the cod fishery has been a mixed report thus far.

In areas like Port Saunders and Port au Choix there seems to be an abundance of cod, and some Port au Choix fishermen say they’re only catching large ones.

However, opposite tales are being told along the Straits, where cod fish appear to be scarce.

“It’s not as abundant on the Straits side, but big cod in Port au Choix area is typical because the deep water is so close there,” Spingle told the Northern Pen.

Both Spingle and Hedderson say the weather has been a major obstacle for harvesters this season. Southwest winds have been “blowing a gale” across the island.

“The wind is particularly difficult for small boat harvesters,” said Spingle. “And this weather is the worst I’ve ever seen it for July month.”

According to Hedderson, some fishing areas in the 4R region have been too difficult to get to due to the rough weather conditions.

While there appear to be good cod catches in his area, Hedderson expects to see the commercial cod fishery continue into next week.

“There’s a good sign of cod around and it’s only going to get thicker,” he said.  “So it’s a good week for a small boat, but still a rough season overall.”

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