WILD COVE, N.L. – For the second season in a row Larry Bailey says he has been forced out of the recreational scallop fishery and he wants answers.
The 84-year-old who resides in Wild Cove, north of Baie Verte, has been fishing scallops his entire life. However, a revision to the definition of what a recreational scallop drag is, in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, is keeping him tied to the wharf.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) adopted the wording, “A drag rake means a device used in fishing for shellfish that is towed along the bed of water by a vessel, but does not include a hydraulic device or a mechanical device,” in 2017.
It’s the same again this year and as a result Bailey is no longer permitted to use his motorized capstan to hoist a drag.
Instead, the octogenarian is required to haul it by hand, something he says he can no longer do.
“These drags are about 30-40 pound empty, but when they are dragging you get scallops, kelp, rock, and other debris. It can weigh between 400 to 600 pounds,” he said. “It’s not something you can do by yourself.”
Bailey had been using a motorized capstan in the ‘90s to hold the strain of the rake, and can’t understand why it only became an issue last year.
“You can take four or five people with you to haul it back, but not a hoist, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
He calls the revision discriminatory against the elderly, those who may not be physically capable of hauling back the excessive weight, but still want to take part in the recreational fishery.
“It’s taking away the bit of recreation we had,” he said.
And it’s something that is permissible in other fisheries. On a commercial level, cod and lobster fisheries permit the use of haulers.
Bailey admits he could bring a crew with him to help haul the catch back, but it’s not something he’s interested in.
“That’s giving in to the feds and I’m not prepared to do that,” he said.
There seemed to be some headway being made with the issue earlier in the year, as the DFO was accepting feedback from February to April, 2018 on the recreational scallop fishery.
Part of the consultation asked if the revision “impacted your participation in the recreational scallop fishery?”
Bailey hoped harvesters would be successful in bringing about change. But the revision was upheld.
“But they had to have their own way, which goes to show how the federal government treats Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” he said.
Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame MP Scott Simms said he’s been advocating on behalf of recreational fishers like Bailey for some time.
“I’ve asked (DFO) to do a review and reconsider what they are doing,” he said. “To deny people the use of hydraulics is essentially booting people — who can’t handle that size of gear themselves — out of the fishery.”
Simms added that upholding the revision was the wrong decision.
“I hope they change their mind at some point. I feel for the recreational scallop fishermen, because I think they may have a point,” Simms said.
In an emailed response, DFO didn’t provide a reason for the revision.
The department confirmed the consultation took place earlier this year, and, “Responses are currently being analyzed and will inform 2019 management measures.”