Many Newfoundlanders can still clearly remember the now infamous announcement made by the Honourable John Crosbie on July 2, 1992 that a two-year moratorium would be placed on the northern cod stock and would continue until the spring of 1994.
Mr. Crosbie was the then federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister Responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
Of course, the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s (NAFO) sub-Division 3Ps was a little different and the moratorium for this area was not called until 1993.
Unlike the northeast coast of the province, the cod fishery in 3Ps (south coast) was re-opened on a limited basis in 1997 and continues with management measures such as Individual Quotas, dockside monitoring, gear limits, cod-by catch levels in other fisheries, specific seasons, observer coverage and a small fish protocol even to this day.
The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for cod in 3Ps in 2012-2013 will be 11,500 metric tons.
Like fishermen in other areas of the province, the harvesters that are still fishing in 3Ps since 1992 have adjusted and adapted to the ‘new fishery’.
Snow crab has become a valuable fishery in the Coast of Bays area since the mid 19990s with a peak of approximately 1000 metric tons in 1999 before settling back down to more moderate catch levels in recent years.
There was no commercial fishing activity for whelk in the Coast of Bays area until 2005. The landings have more than tripled since the beginning of this fishery with 670 metric tons of whelk landed in 2011.
Monkfish was essentially non-existent in the Coast of Bays until 1998. There was a surge of landings in the mid-2000s peaking at around 80 metric tons in 2006 before settling back down to its pre-existing smaller levels in recent years.
Atlantic herring was moderately fished in the Coast of Bays region in the early 1990s, but has increased dramatically in the early 2000s with a peak of approximately 300 metric tons in 2005. It continues to be fished at consistent levels in recent years.
Lumpfish roe was fished at a steady level in the Coast of Bays in the 1990s, with a peak of about 300 metr4ic tons in 1999 before declining significantly in recent years.
So, harvesters still fishing in the 3Ps area have learned to adjust and adapt to the new fishery since the early 1990s and they have done so quite well.
Of course, the biggest change in the Coast of Bays since 1993 has been the rapid growth of the aquaculture industry, which has become an economic blessing for the entire area.
Nearly every community, if not all, in the Coast of Bays has benefited to some degree thanks to several large aquaculture companies arriving in the area since the mid 2000s.
Companies like Cooke Aquaculture, Northern Harvest Sea Farms and Gray Aquaculture have created hundreds of jobs in the area on cage sites and in processing operations.
This has led to a transformation in the communities and towns in the area as they have seen new housing developments, new businesses and new infrastructure put in place due to the growth of this new industry.
In 2011, the province’s aquaculture industry’s production rose 12.4 per cent, from 15,360 tons in 2010 to 17,264 tons in 2011. The total market value increased from $118 million in 2010 to $120 million in 2011.
And this growth will continue as the companies mentioned are continuing to expand their operations in the Coast of Bays area.
So, the last 20 years have brought some major changes to the Coast of Bays. It will be very interesting to see those changes continue to evolve through the next two decades and beyond.