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Processors put lives at risk by giving inshore harvesters deadlines to bring in cod quotas, now they've stopped buying at Herring Neck altogether

Too Good Arm fisherman Junior Stuckey says he and other harvesters almost capsized their boats last year because processors only gave them two days to land their weekly cod quotas, and the fish had to be at the wharf by 5 p.m. He also needs a bigger boat for safety, but as a non-core fisherman DFO policy restricts his vessel length to 28-feet.

Fisherman Junior Stuckey fishes cod, mackerel, squid, seal, lobster and bait licences from his 26-foot boat.

The following letter by non-core fisherman Junior Stuckey of Too Good Arm on the northeast coast has been forwarded to the province's MHAs, MPs, and Senators.

To whom it may concern,

I'm a fisherman from the northeast coast of Newfoundland, fishing area 3KL, and I have some concerns about the fishery, I’m hoping that changes will be made by fish processors and to DFO policy that could help, not only myself, but other fishermen as well.

We've been told by fish processors here in our area (Herring Neck, Too Good Arm, Pikes Arm, and Cobb's Arm) that this year they won't be taking our cod at the wharf in Herring Neck, where fishermen have shipped their cod for decades. 

This was a very convenient place because it was fairly close to the fishing grounds, but now they want us to travel miles in boat to another community to ship our cod. This is a major safety issue for fishermen/women here in this area.

Last year and the year before me and other fishermen/women almost capsized our boats on the way in to the wharf with our cod because the processors only usually gave us two days to get our quota in for the week, and the fish had to be in to the wharf by 5 p.m. 

Most days we're having to deal with wind, but some days are much worse than others. So when we're told to fish on certain days instead of fishing on days that are good that puts us fishermen/women at great risk, and now they're expecting us to travel even farther in boat with our catch, which causes us great concern. 

We should have all week to bring in our cod quota, but instead our lives are being put at risk, and for what, to accommodate fish processors. 

Without us fishermen/women putting our lives at risk everyday at sea they wouldn't even have any fish products to sell to the markets, but are they grateful? 

Certainly doesn't feel like it by the way we're being treated on times. So I'm hoping that the processor that takes our cod will change their mind and take our cod at the wharf in Herring Neck. I don't think that's asking too much when it comes to safety.

Safety was a factor in DFO's 2022 decision to extend fishing-vessel length for the inshore feet in this province to 49'11 from 39'11. Non-core enterprise owners are still restricted to 28 feet.

I'm a non-core fisherman and there's many more like me and I feel like we've been discriminated against. 

One way is when fishermen were given electric lobster haulers for a few years to help them with their fishery, only you had to be a core fishermen/women to receive one. 

I work just as hard or harder in the fishery as anyone else but because I was a non-core fisherman I wasn't allowed to have an electric lobster hauler. If that's not discrimination I don't know what is. 

Also, I am only allowed a vessel up to 28 feet in length because I'm a non-core fisherman, but if you're a core fisherman/woman you can have a vessel up to 50 feet in length. 

Is the safety of a core fisherman any more important than mine? I don't think so and I'm sure other non-core fishermen/women don't think so either but that's what it feels like. 

If I could get a bigger vessel for fishing cod then that would certainly help with safety concerns and stress for me and my family. We need to feel as safe as possible when fishing at sea because it's already taken too many of our fishermen/women as it is. Even some from this area over the years and it needs to stop.

So today I'm requesting that fishermen/women like myself who are non-core can get larger vessels for fishing cod or any species for that matter the same as core fishermen/women can. 

We need people fighting for us everyday, not against us. 

So for safety reasons we need policy changes from DFO to increase vessel size for non-core fishermen/women the same as it is for core fishermen/women then we will be able to feel a lot safer fishing at sea. I'm sure lives will be saved, maybe even mine. 

I look forward to hearing from you on these matters.

Thank you,

Junior Stuckey

(709) 628-5270

Ryan cleary is a former journalist, Member of Parliament, union leader, and long-time inshore fisheries advocate who’s currently helping to organize a co-operative ( for inshore enterprise owners. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own. Contact him at or call/text 709 682 4862. 

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