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Western Newfoundland retailers lamenting late start to cod fishing gear

Cod fish stock image.
Cod fish stock image. - 123RF Stock Photo

When Gary Warren heads out across the province selling sport fishing gear to retailers, he tries to kill two birds with one stone and brings along cod fishing equipment, too.

This year, the delayed announcement of the recreational groundfish fishery threw a monkey wrench into that annual strategy employed by Warren’s Corner Brook business, Good Buddy Sports.

“Nobody purchased anything,” said Warren of this year’s provincial gear-peddling tour.

“Everybody was holding off until the last minute to see if it was going to be worthwhile to buy any product or not.”

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He said it won’t make much economic sense to go back over the sales route with just cod fishing gear.

That is just one way the delayed announcement of the recreational fishery is impacting the local economy this year.

Warren said certain fishing items require ordering months in advance and, if it’s not on hand right now, it will be hard to find on short notice. His business held back on ordering more gear this year because of the uncertainty over the dates.

He said it’s not good enough that the dates for this year’s fishery, which starts the last weekend in June, were announced less than three weeks prior to the start.

It affects not just retailers like Good Buddy Sports, Warren noted, but also impacts tour operators, bookings for accommodations and people’s plans to coordinate visits to Newfoundland and Labrador with the fishery.

Paul Barnes of Barnes Sporting Goods said he took a risk when ordering gear people would use to fish cod recreationally.

“The only difference the delay made to me is not knowing whether to order or not,” he said. “I took a chance and ordered and that was a gamble of around $10,000.”

He said there’s no good reason why the dates could not have been announced at least three months ago.

There has been some concern expressed about the impact on the cod stocks the recreational fishery might be having. Seafood processors have said the fishery is not regulated enough in terms of making people report how much fish they are taking from the sea.

“What the food fishery is going to hurt is nothing,” Barnes said of its impact on the stock.

Byron Langford of Byron’s Tarp and Shoe Repair in Deer Lake also ordered inventory for this year’s cod fishery, but did so last year under the assumption there would be another recreational fishery in 2018. The lateness in confirming this year’s season also doesn’t sit well with him.

“There’s always an impact when people don’t know if there’s going to be a fishery or not,” he said. “Business has been slow. People weren’t buying because they were waiting.”

The dates are confirmed now, but more notice would be better for business. Langford is just glad it was done in time for people considering fishing gear as a Father’s Day gift idea.

“There haven’t been many sales yet, but at least people are talking about it now and they are looking,” he said.

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