“We certainly need to understand what is happening to our ecosystem and our fish resources to ensure the product we harvest and process is used for the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador. We believe there is a bright future for the seafood industry and will continue working to help create that future.” -Robert Verge, Managing Director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation
Verge was speaking in response to the announcement by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that the 2013 provincial budget would allocate over $2 million to the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and other cod recovery and fisheries science initiatives.
“Our government believes that an ongoing commitment to fisheries science and research is extremely important,” says Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Derrick Dalley. “The Provincial Government will continue to make strategic investments to grow and diversify the economy. Budget 2013 maintains our commitment to the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, in particular the ongoing work of Dr. George Rose and his team aboard the RV Celtic Explorer, and funding for other important science-related initiatives. These investments will help preserve and expand an industry that is vital to many communities throughout the province.”
The cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador flourished for nearly five centuries before its collapse and the ensuing moratorium, which began in 1992. It is estimated that in excess of 30,000 people lost their livelihoods as a result of the moratorium. The story of fishing northern cod to the point of commercial extinction is one of fishery management falling behind fishing technology and government weighing the economic concerns more heavily than the ecosystem concerns. Continued overestimates of cod stock led to continued overfishing. In the three decades leading up to the moratorium, the spawning biomass of northern cod dropped by around 93 percent from 1.6 million tonnes in 1962 to between 72,000 and 110,000 tonnes in 1992.