UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The inshore-offshore conflict in the Newfoundland fishery Voutier, Keltie C.


This thesis examines the Government of Newfoundland's decision to emphasize the inshore fishery at the expense of the offshore in the future development of the industry. The inshore fishery is labour-intensive and is composed of approximately 30,000 licensed fishermen who operate on a seasonal basis from Newfoundland's coastal communities. More than 10,000 privately-owned vessels - with maximum range of 50 miles - are deployed in this sector and account for 65% of total landed tonnage. These vessels do not exceed 65 feet in length and over 90% are under 38 feet long. In comparison, the offshore fleet is capital-intensive and is executed from less than a dozen ports by 80 corporately-owned trawlers that range from 120 - 210 feet in length. The 1,100 men employed in this sector fish year-round as far as 200 miles out to sea and take the remaining 35% of total landed tonnage. Apart from one major exception, each sector takes stocks that are not exploited by the other. A major portion of the cod resource, however, follows extensive migration patterns and is harvested by both sectors. This seriously complicates the Newfoundland fishery because cod is the single most important stock and accounts for approximately 40% of the dockside value of the total Newfoundland catch. The cod resource is in fact composed of a number of separate stocks but about 60% of the total cod catch comes from one stock complex. This complex is known as the 'northern cod' and only this cod follows extensive migration patterns. Thus the inshore-offshore fishery conflict is confined solely to northern cod. The inshore and offshore sectors are not on an equal footing regarding northern cod because the inshore sector depends upon the seasonal shoreward migration of the cod that escape offshore exploitation. The viability of the inshore cod fishery is therefore contingent upon the restriction of offshore harvesting to levels that allow adequate volumes of cod to migrate inshore. This issue has been a central problem in the Newfoundland fishery for some time but it has become critical since the extension of fisheries jursidiction to 200 miles in 1977 . The extension of fisheries jurisdiction is expected to result in a 250% increase in total landings by Canadian fishermen from 1977 to 1985. In Newfoundland, landings are predicted to increase from 400,000 metric tonnes to 1,000,000 metric tonnes by 1985. Northern cod is anticipated to form the bulk of this with landings expected to rise from 80,000 metric tonnes to 365,000 metric tonnes during this- period. The Government of Newfoundland is currently implementing strategies to deal with these increases but, before doing so, it first had to determine where the emphasis for the allocation of the expected increases of northern cod was to be placed. It decided that, since inshore fishing contributes more to the stabilization of rural settlement patterns and lifestyles, priority ought to be placed with this sector. To analyze whether this was justified, the fisheries management literature was reviewed in order to identify appropriate criteria for evaluation. The literature illustrates that the three fundamental concerns are with utilizing the resource on a sustained basis, maximizing economic efficiency and satisfying the social aspirations of the people. On this basis, the criteria listed below were considered. Resource-Related Criteria: (1) Ability to harvest cod. It is important to know if each sector is capable of harvesting the major portion of the total allowable catch of northern cod. If one sector is not, placing priority with it would be an inefficient approach to managing the resource. (2) Ability to ensure sustained harvesting. Fisheries management is concerned with sustained harvesting. If one sector displays a capability for stock depletion much greater than the other, it may not be the most attractive for the long term management of the resource. Thus, a second criterion is the physical ability of each sector to harvest cod without over-exploiting the stock. Economic Criteria: (3) Maximization of economic rent. The management literature outlines that a fundamental management concern is to maximize economic rent. A third evaluation criterion, therefore, is which sector harvests fish most cost-effectively for a given volume of catch. (4) Maximization of economic efficiency. Maximizing rent for a fishery is only an accepted measure of economic efficiency during periods of full employment. Otherwise, immobility of labour, low opportunity costs and the combination of fishing with supplementary activities may mean that efficiency is fulfilled by over-employment in a fishery. Therefore, a fourth evaluation criterion is which sector contributes most to economic efficiency through the creation of employment and compatibility with supplementary economic activities. (5) Plant utilization. The processors have pointed to the fact that one of their most important concerns is increased plant utilization. A fifth evaluation criterion, consequently, is an examination of the impact that each fishery sector has on this. Social Criterion: (6) Satisfaction of social concerns. An integral aspect of fisheries management is satisfaction of social aspirations. In the Newfoundland fishery, these include provision of employment opportunities and preservation of existing settlement patterns. A final criterion is how the two sectors compare regarding this. Examination of the available data illustrates that both the inshore and the offshore sectors have the ability to harvest the major portion of the northern cod. Inshore fishing, however, employs a less rapacious technology than offshore fishing and harvests only the migratory part of the resource. Thus, it runs a lower risk of over-harvesting. At the same time, data provided by Schrank et al (1980) indicate that the inshore fishery generates greater economic rents than the offshore, i.e. it is the most cost-effective approach to harvesting. Furthermore, because it is labour- rather than capital-intensive, inshore fishing creates more jobs and, because it is seasonal, also allows for a greater range of supplementary activities. Thus, it contributes more to "economic efficiency". The two sectors also differ respecting plant utilization. Offshore fishing provides year-round operability for a handful of plants whereas inshore fishing supplies over 150 plants but on a seasonal basis only. Since both sectors display an ability to harvest the major portion of cod, neither has any advantages as far as increasing total plant utilization is concerned. Offshore fishing centralizes plant activity, however, and the inshore fishery may have benefits here by contributing more to efficiency criteria in creating a greater number of part-time jobs which can be fitted in with other occupations. Finally, the inshore sector is more supportive of existing settlement patterns than the offshore fishery because it provides employment in all outports and, since it allows for traditional supplementary activities more so than the offshore sector, is also more compatible with rural lifestyles. In summary, the inshore sector outperforms the offshore regarding the generation of rent and the maximization of economic efficiency. It is also less likely to over-harvest the resource and more fully satisfies the social aspirations of the Newfoundland people. There are no distinct differences between the two sectors in their ability to harvest cod or their contributions to total plant utilization. The inshore fishery therefore surpasses or is at least comparable to the offshore sector in every criterion. On the strength of this, it is the conclusion of this thesis that the Government of Newfoundland has made an appropriate decision in placing emphasis on the inshore fishery.

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