An exploratory turbot pot fishery that will test new harvesting equipment has received funding from the Newfoundland and Labrador government. Darin King, N.L. Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, has announced $61,253 for the project through the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program.
“Projects like this demonstrate the kind of innovation we want to foster in our fishing industry,” said King.
The project is an expansion of cod pot development work that has been done collaboratively by the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation, the Marine Institute, the industry and the provincial government over the past several years. It will determine whether an Atlantic cod pot design can be adapted and modified to capture commercial quantities of turbot.
If the equipment proves successful, it may provide an opportunity for small inshore vessel operators in the White Bay and Notre Dame Bay, N.L. regions to access the turbot resource in near shore waters, which would reduce the cost and risk of fishing further offshore.
“The turbot potting project is one of many projects that the centre is undertaking today in the area of sustainable harvesting,” said Robert Verge, Managing Director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation. “Developing this gear will allow area harvesters to fish an additional species, while doing it in a very responsible way. This gear avoids by-catches of crab, it is stationary and therefore fuel efficient and it produces a premium quality product. The centre appreciates the Provincial Government’s support as we pursue this research, and we look forward to seeing the results.”
There will be a total of 12 pots used in the study, which will be set in separate locations and monitored regularly. Recorded data will include details such as species caught and species weight and length. If the pots prove successful, they may also be adapted as gear to be used in offshore waters as stand alone equipment or in combination with gillnets.
Everett Roberts, a fisherman from Triton, was the driving force behind the project, as he wanted to explore ways to improve fishing opportunities for himself and the 300 plus inshore vessel operators like him. The collapse of groundfish stocks in the 1990s had a significant impact on his area, as it caused local fishers to concentrate their efforts on snow crab. As no turbot fishing activity has taken place in the area over the last 15 years, there is optimism that increased biomass and an innovative harvesting approach may yield a viable fishery in the region.
“Small inshore operators like me know it is important to do whatever we can to make our fishing activities as profitable and efficient as possible,” said Roberts. “If this project leads to a revitalized turbot fishery, it would mean great things for my area, and so I thank the Provincial Government and the centre for supporting this project.”